Pokemon Go, as everyone already knows, has been a huge hit and almost everyone has it. For one, it's a Freemium mobile app so it can be downloaded to anyone's phone (not needing any game console) with no purchases needed - at first (wink!). Second, it's an augmented reality game that requires actual movements like walking long distances to play with its full features - this is ironic since most people would like to play games without the hassle yet, Niantic's tactic on getting people off their butts and start burning calories has worked so far.
One recent addition to the game is the Buddy system, where you can pick a partner among your Pokemon roster and have it accompany you in your journey to be the very best Pokemon trainer in Pokemon Go. As part of its gimmick to keep players playing Pokemon Go, Niantic added some perk if you walk with a Buddy Pokemon. You will earn a Candy per distance travelled together. A complete list of distance covered and their Candy reward is posted here. But get this, no one actually questioned why they are categorized into different distances.
As you can observe, only a single Candy is awarded per completed distance and the bigger your Pokemon Buddy, the further you need to walk to earn that one Candy. I then started to question, why the difference? They all are evolved or powered up equally, right? Why does a Pikachu only need a kilometer travelled while the big ones such as Snorlax, or my personal Buddy - Onix require 5 kilometers? Is it because bigger Pokemon do better on gyms compared with smaller once? This isn't fair right?
I even posted my question on TheSilphRoad, a sub-Reddit dedicated to Pokemon Go but as of this writing, no response yet. This led me to search all over the internet, but I couldn't seem to find any explanation on why the distances are varied. The only clue I have is that they are categorized by weight (I guess) and that different weight tiers will require different distances for a single Candy to be earned. Through my research today, I also confirmed that the buddy system only rewards you with that one Candy every X kilometers you have travelled, no XP, no Stardust, just candy.
Still couldn't find the reason why
Up to this point, I am still wondering what other factors made Niantic categorize the Pokemon into 3 tiers: 1 km, 3km, and 5km. Other than the fact that the Pokemon are grouped by 'weight', there isn't any other tangible reason why these Pokemon have different distance requirements, again - just for one Candy. This has led me to think that it is unfair for those who chose the heavier Pokemon such as Lapras, or Dragonaire as their buddy because they have to walk longer compared to having a Pikachu. I would like to think that bigger Pokemon fight better on gyms compared to smaller ones due to their size. Another theory is that, this is just one of the game's 'imbalance' to make the rock-paper-scissors concept more exciting, so players will need to dig a little deeper when deciding which Buddy Pokemon to choose as partner for Pokemon Go.
An ongoing quest
This topic makes me feel like I am looking for the Red Gayarados in Pokemon Go. Until I find the proper explanation on why the varied distances, I will continue to question its existence. For now, I will stick to my notion that it is unfair for us who picked bigger Pokemon to walk with in Pokemon Go. I will gladly create another article in case I bump into some satisfying explanation. Until then, here's a nifty YouTube video that shows how (not why) the Buddy Pokemon system works.