It makes sense that some monsters aren't immediately available in Pokemon Go: The roster has "legendaries", and the best way to feel like they are special is to make them rare. But why has nobody found a Ditto yet? This is a question that has been tormenting Pokemon GO players since it became widely known that Pokemon GO didn't release the full 151 compendium. At first, many rationalised Ditto's absence because it was possible that it wouldn't be released until Pokemon GO got a breeding mechanic, as Ditto can partner up with almost any Pokemon to make new eggs. Others thought that maybe Ditto would be a part of a larger legendary reveal, since a popular fan theory postulates that Dittos are failed clones of Mew.
Last weekend, however, Niantic's John Hanke told a San Diego Comic-Con attendants that there were still Easter eggs within Pokemon GO that nobody has found. While this has sparked a general search for more secrets within Pokemon GO, a sizeable segment of the playerbase has set its sights on Ditto. The thinking being: Could it be possible that Ditto itself is an Easter egg? I mean, it's not like Ditto is a legendary, so why wouldn't it just be in the game like everyone else?
For the last few days, threads on Reddit have popped up with all sorts of theories and attempts to make Pokemon GO spawn Ditto in some way. The search has partially been fuelled by the discovery that, according to data-mined code, Ditto doesn't actually have the move "transform" in-game — therefore it is unlikely that Niantic is holding Ditto back out of fear that it might break the game. Another major clue that people have latched on to is Ditto's in-game description, which was also obtained via data mining:
Ditto rearranges its cell structure to transform itself into other shapes. However, if it tries to transform itself into something by relying on its memory, this Pokemon manages to get details wrong.
With that in mind, one player tried naming every single monster "Ditto" to see if it might trigger something:
It didn't work.
Another player tried naming Pikachu ":)", to mimic Ditto's face as it appears in the anime:
Image credit: validproof
No dice. But hey, it's pretty neat that you can name a critter a straight-up smiley face, no?
Others have reported trying to mess with every Pokemon they have captured, because it's possible that we've been encountering Ditto all along — it was just disguising itself as something else. In particular, people have been analysing creatures that Ditto has mimicked in the anime (such as Pikachu), though nothing has come of that.
A popular, albeit silly observation for example is that Geodude seems to have a sleeping face on its back:
According to Pokemon resource Bulbapedia, Ditto turns into a rock when it is sleeping. But so far, no poking or prodding of Geodude's butt has produced anything of note, other than the sinking feeling that we're entering Chiliad Mystery territory. To be fair, though, Ditto has sneakily appeared in other games in total disguise:
In Pokemon Snap, you get "Bulbasaur" to turn into Ditto by throwing a Pester Ball at it. There are no Pester Balls in Pokemon GO, but it's possible that unlocking Ditto similarly requires the use of an item.
At the moment, Pokemon GO players are still testing all sorts of theories, like challenging gyms with each monster that Ditto has been known to mimic, using the camera in all sorts of ways, and even trying to QR codes in-game. The theories can and do get wilder, however: One player thinks that it's possible that Ditto only spawns at a certain time and place, like it sometimes does in the actual games. You can read more about that in this Reddit thread.
So far, the most convincing theory I've seen is that Ditto is actually just South America's region-exclusive Pokemon, and that nobody has seen it because the game hasn't launched there yet. But then, that wouldn't explain why Ditto hasn't even been hatched anywhere; region-specific Pokemon are still available to everyone via eggs. The simplest explanation seems to be that Niantic has not put Ditto in the game yet, for whatever reason.
If Ditto does turn out to be a cool, elaborate Easter egg? Well-played, Niantic. Well-played. Until we know for sure, Pokemon GO players will continue to pull our hair out in search of the ever-elusive Ditto.