Niantic didn’t exactly blow everyone away with its December update to the game that added a handful of baby Gen 2 Pokémon when everyone was expecting either the entirety of Gen 2, or the unleashing of some Legendary Pokémon at last.

But similarly strange has been the silence regarding a possible Christmas/Holiday event for the game, particularly when the Halloween and Thanksgiving double candy/XP events were such big revenue generators. Instead, all players have gotten is a Santa hat-wearing Pikachu to mark the “festive” occasion.

This may be about to change, however, as in a relatively minor patch, the data-hunters at The Silph Road were unable to unearth a pair of clues that may point to an actual Christmas event, albeit one that had better start rather soon, or it’s going to miss the holiday entirely.

There are two major finds here, the first being the inclusion of new “present/gift” images, that are exactly what they sound like. Little present icons of different colors, their purpose unknown. Second, a minor find in the code is a line called “HasHolidayItems.” It’s not a ton of code, but it might be enough to signal that a holiday event is coming.

My guess? There will be a certain period of time where if players log in and perform a specific action, spinning a Pokestop or catching a Pokémon, they’ll be rewarded with a gift box. And perhaps that gift box will contain items above and beyond what we see in just regular PokeStops, like the chance to get Lucky Eggs, Lures or Incubators instead of just balls and potions.Photo: Niantic

This may be combined with another form of motivation to play, like another candy increase, XP bonus, or perhaps increased spawns of ice Pokémon. These are things that wouldn’t take a lot of code to implement, and paired with a pretty straightforward “gift” mechanic, would get people to log on and play.

There was some talk that the December update was going to include either purchasable costumes for Trainers or their Pokémon, but I imagine we would see more pieces of that here if something like that was imminent. Obviously, since this is the biggest holiday period of the year, I would think that Niantic would want to do something above and beyond what we saw for Halloween or Thanksgiving, but perhaps even if it was just on par with what’s come before, that would be enough. Double candy alone is a huge reason to get a large portion of the playerbase active again, and presents that included actual, useful items would be almost a guarantee that many lapsed players would return.

It would just be awfully strange if Niantic kept Santa Pikachu as the only holiday aspect of Pokémon GO, given what we’ve seen the last few months. If this is going to happen, I would expect it to be announced pretty soon. I would imagine we might see an event like this run from say, the 23rd to January 1st to encompass the major holidays over that time period.

I have to believe an actual holiday event is coming very, very soon to Pokémon GO. Something as simple as double XP or candy should be like flipping a switch, and it would be strange if assets like these presents weren’t used. It may be freezing outside in many places, but an event like this would be a hit and Niantic knows it. Stay tuned for a pending announcement in the next few days, if I had to guess.