What Does It Mean To “Favorite” A Pokemon In “Pokemon Go?” This Feature Has An Unexpected Perk

It’s a feature that’s been around since the app’s release several weeks ago, but it’s also a topic that not many have taken the time to delve into: What does it mean to “favorite” a Pokemon in “Pokemon Go?” Is it like heart-ing a tweet? Does it give your Pokemon any special abilities? Is it… kind of useless? Is it just totally unnecessary favoritism that will sow dissent in the ranks of your pocket monster army? Let’s explore, because as far as I can tell, no one else has satisfactorily answered this question yet. (What can I say? I’m insatiably curious. In the words of Inigo Montoya, I must know.)

I’ll be honest: When the question of what favoriting actually does was first posed to me, for a moment, I couldn’t even remember whether the ability to favorite a Pokemon had existed before the July 31 update. Looking back at some older screenshots I took during “Pokemon Go’s” early days, I can confirm that it did; I just apparently hadn’t bothered to use it then. (Then again, I am also still a measly level nine Trainer, so this is perhaps unsurprising.) It’s possible, though, that favoriting might be one of the app’s most underutilized features — but thanks to a new ability granted to it in the update, it might be about to see an uptick in popularity.

First, the nitty gritty: At its base, the ability to favorite certain Pokemon is mostly an organizational feature. Once you’ve marked a certain critter as a favorite, which you do by tapping the star in the upper right hand corner of a specific Pokemon's profile screen, you can sort your available Pokemon according to those favorites. To do so, first tap the star button in the lower right hand corner of your Pokemon inventory screen; then tap “Favorite”:

Doing so will display all the Pokemon in your possession according to whether or not you’ve favorited them. Favorited Pokemon will all appear first, then the rest of your Pokemon will follow. Each group will be organized by CP number (high to low):

(And for the curious, no, I am not keeping that random Rattata as a favorite; this image is purely the result of an experiment to see how the whole thing works.)

What's the point of this sorting option? That depends on the player. You can make use of it however you like; IGN’s “Pokemon Go” Wiki, for example, suggests using it as a way to keep yourself organized while prepping for a Lucky Egg evolution/leveling up adventure: “Favorite all the Pokemon you want to evolve with a star to keep things in order,” the wiki’s Cheats and Secrets page reads. Get creative; there are probably loads of ways to make favoriting work for you, depending on what you want to get out of the game.

However, there’s an added bonus to favoriting your star Vaporeon or Snorlax, which came with the new update released this past Sunday: Favorited Pokemon cannot be transferred — that is, you can’t trade them to Professor Willow in exchange for candy. If you try, the following message will pop up on your screen:

This will prevent you from accidentally purging your fighting roster of the crown jewel of your collection. Hallelujah.

This functionality of the favoriting feature appears to be new to the July 31 update; according to Tech Crunch, favorited Pokemon are only protected from transfer if you’ve downloaded and installed the latest version of the app. So, if you’re still working off of a version lower than 1.1.0 for iOS and 0.31.0 for Android, beware — you can still accidentally transfer favorited Pokemon to Professor Willow.

As far as I know, that’s all there is to favoriting your Pokemon at present; however, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for the feature to develop even more utility as time goes by. At the recent “Pokemon Go” panel at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC), Niantic CEO John Hanke noted that the company has big plans to keep developing the app — we’ll just have to wait and see what that means. Whatever the case, though, good things are surely on the horizon!

Images: Lucia Peters/Bustle (4)