Pokemon Go has been without its version of Team Rocket for over a week, frustrating players who are trying to level up. Team Go Rocket has been a focal point of Pokemon Go gameplay for several years, with various Grunts and Team Admins regularly taking over Poke Stops and pestering players from hot air balloons. While the core gameplay of these encounters hasn't changed much since their initial appearance in 2019, Pokemon Go has regularly added new Shadow Pokemon for players to rescue and thrown other minor wrinkles to give players some extra variety when facing down these villainous NPCs.
However, 10 days ago, Niantic made a late-night announcement on its "Niantic Help" Twitter account that it was suspending Team Go Rocket encounters while investigating errors associated with the gameplay feature. The official account declined to provide any additional details, but Pokemon Go's "Known Issues" page provided some additional context - Team Go Rocket encounters would occasionally cause the game to freeze and become unresponsive. Niantic has responded to complaints about the missing feature by noting that they were continuing to investigate the issues, but have otherwise provided no timeline on when Team Go Rocket will make their return.
Although the lack of Team Go Rocket encounters isn't necessary a gamebreaker for Pokemon Go, there are a subset of players who have every right to be frustrated about the general lack of communication over the missing gameplay feature. Players attempting to reach Level 46 first need to defeat 100 Team Go Rocket Grunts and defeat a Team Go Rocket Leader 50 times. Players attempting to reach Level 50 need to defeat a Team Go Rocket leader 3 times using only Pokemon with a CP of 2,500 or lower. Because of the missing gameplay feature, these players can't continue their leveling up journey, and it doesn't appear that Pokemon Go will grant them a pass like when several well-known YouTubers were granted "free" level ups during their race to Level 50 after a glitch accidentally erased a day's worth of progress.
Pokemon Go has plenty of other content to keep fans busy, such as regular weekly events, but the lack of Team Go Rocket is a strange bug. It's been a while since Pokemon Go has entirely disabled a part of their game for this long of a time, and we hope that Team Go Rocket will show their faces in the game soon.