Ed Sheeran is coming to Pokémon Go to serenade Squirtles in sunglasses

Niantic has released details of Pokémon Go’s upcoming Ed Sheeran collaboration in a new blog post, a little over a day after first teasing the surprising crossover. The event kicks off on November 22nd at 2pm ET (11am PT), and will run for a little over a week until November 30th. The main feature appears to be a performance of some sort from Ed Sheeran, though what form this will take (a pre-recorded video? A virtual Ed avatar?) isn’t at all clear.

Niantic says the performance will include songs from Sheeran’s new album, titled = (yes, the name of the album is the equals sign), and that it’ll be accessible from the News section of the Pokémon Go app. Right now, this section is just a news feed of announcements and blog posts, so this doesn’t offer much of a hint about what shape the performance will take.

That’s not all! In celebration of Ed Sheeran’s favorite Pokémon, Squirtle wearing sunglasses will be returning to Pokémon GO!
We might be “Thinking Out Loud,” but the thought of catching this Squirtle again feels so “Perfect” that it’s giving us “Shivers.”

— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) November 18, 2021

With the event, Niantic appears to be attempting to follow in the footsteps of Epic Games, which has offered a number of in-game music events in Fortnite over the years from artists like Travis Scott and Ariana Grande. Epic has cited pop culture events like these as a key part of its attempt to expand Fortnite from a game into a metaverse-style social space, and Niantic hasn’t been shy about its own metaverse plans.

As well as Sheeran’s performance, the event will also include more typical Pokémon Go gameplay elements. A number of water-type pokémon and the special sunglasses-wearing variety of Squirtle will be available to catch (“Ed always chooses the water-type pokémon as his first partner” you see), and there’ll also be a branded = sweatshirts you can equip your avatar with. Over the course of the week, Ed Sheeran’s song “Overpass Graffiti” will also play during the night in-game.

In-game events like these are big business for Niantic. This year’s Go Fest event, which took place in July, reportedly brought in around $21 million in revenue over the course of two days, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower, Eurogamer reported.