Why are Jessie and James leaving Pokémon Go?

They’re blasting off again.

Image via Niantic

For fans of the Pokémon anime show, having Jessie and James pop into Pokémon Go has been a fun ride. They were a special encounter for the Rocket balloons, and you knew it was them as they showed up in their iconic Meowth-shaped one. However, on September 31, they will be leaving the game, and Niantic has encouraged players to try their hand at attempting to fight them. Still, it’s a random chance every few hours for a Rocket balloon to show up, so players don’t have much choice except to check the game every so often. Why are the dynamic duo leaving the game, though?

It’s likely because Niantic is preparing to transition to their next Team Rocket event. When the COVID-19 pandemic initially began back in April and May of 2020, Niantic announced removing the monthly Giovanni events. These events were a chance for trainers to roam the world fighting Grunts that had taken over Pokémon Go stops, fight the leaders, and eventually complete enough quests for a chance to fight Giovanni himself. Each month, Giovanni had a new legendary Pokémon at his side that he had turned into a Shadow Pokémon, and trainers could liberate them from his service. With those events going to the wayside, Niantic had to think up something new for players to fight Team Rocket without leaving their home.

Their solution was the Team Rocket balloons. These balloons would float overtop of a player’s location, regardless if they were next to a Pokémon Go stop or not. The first to use it was Jessie and James, and so those two became a rare spawn during the July Team Rocket events, leading up to Pokémon Go Fest’s 2020 event. However, when the team initially said they were removing Giovanni, they promised to bring him back late September and sometime in October.

With October nearly here, and Jessie and James have been in the game for a few months, it’s time to part ways. The troubled duo will likely be making a return, potentially with new Pokémon, but right now, we don’t know the answer. You have until September 30 to battle them and catch their Shadow Pokémon. From September 22 to September 30, you have a higher chance of encountering them and seeing their iconic Meowth balloon.