A Pokemon fan theory might explain why Pokemon level up more easily in later installments as compared to earlier ones. Though potentially at odds with the Pokemon series’ convoluted timeline, it is a simple and logical explanation that works well on its own terms.
While the franchise is best known for battles between Trainers, those can’t happen until players level up their Pokemon. In the series’ earliest games, there wasn’t much of an alternative to grinding; if players’ Pokemon were underleveled, the player would need to fight Pokemon in the grass for a long time to get stronger. Newer games introduce a number of conveniences that make training easier. For instance, Pokemon Sword and Shield features an automatic experience share system that gives every party member experience without the need to participate in battle.
The theory, put forward by Reddit user JonSnowgaryen, suggests that training Pokemon becomes easier as Trainers share knowledge with each other over time. Particularly for Pokemon that have only been recently discovered, it’s not hard to imagine there would be a relative lack of information about raising them. Even if Pokemon aren’t new, they may take on new forms over time, such as Mimikyu learning to socialize by disguising as Pikachu. The rise of the Internet in-universe would allow Trainers to exchange tips easily for the first time.
There is one issue with the theory. Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire employ the universal EXP Share, although they take place about a decade before games like Pokemon Black and White, which do not. Recent series installments clarify that Pokemon games take place along a split timeline. Namely, if the ancient war from Pokemon X and Y does not take place, then Mega Evolution never exists, and Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire happen instead of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Perhaps in the Mega Evolution timeline, Internet technology advanced faster, letting Trainers share knowledge earlier.
This theory has some validation beyond the series’ level-up system. Outside of Pokemon Yellow‘s Pikachu, there was no way to gauge a Pokemon’s friendship level in the first generation games. In every game since, Pokemon have Friendship statistics that change based on the player’s actions. Plus, modern games let players take care of Pokemon in ways that were previously unfeasible. For example, Pokemon Sword and Shield players can cook curry with Pokemon while camping.
Hardcore Pokemon fans know that leveling up is only the first of many steps toward creating a strong Pokemon. In order to draw out the maximum power of juggernauts like Gardevoir, Trainers must optimize Effort Values, ensure the Pokemon has the proper Nature, and more. While Trainers sharing advice may make leveling up easier, players still have to go the extra mile to assemble a team worthy of a Champion.