Pokémon Go developer Niantic recently stated that they will be adjusting in-game features that were implemented due to the Covid-19 pandemic. These included free bonuses and benefits that players could collect while remaining in the safety of their own homes.
The Pokémon Go team outlined the extent of these changes on June 21 through a post on pokemongolive.com. The post first explains that “New exploration bonuses that make it more rewarding to play outside” will start to be added to the game. These include “two free raid passes per day from spinning Gym photo Discs,” a boost to the effect of incense when a player is in motion, “guaranteed gifts when spinning Pokéstops” (assuming players have space in their gift inventory), and a ten-fold boost in XP when spinning a new Pokéstop.
The team then wrote that “bonuses last year that we plan to remove or change” will have their first trials in the United States and New Zealand. These include moving the effectiveness of incense to their normal levels, discontinuing daily gifts by buddy Pokémon and decreasing interaction distances to their pre-pandemic settings.
The team will also keep the following changes, according to the post:
- Incense duration will remain at 60 minutes.
- No walking requirement for GO Battle League.
- You can challenge any Trainer remotely with a QR Code, and the requirement to battle with friends remotely has been lowered to Good Friends.
- The maximum number of Gifts you can carry in your Item Bag at a time will remain at 20.
- Trainers will be able to open up to 30 Gifts per day, up from the previous 20.
- You will continue to receive three times the Stardust and XP for your first Pokémon catch of the day.
Many fans have expressed their discontent with the announced changes. There have been multiple petitions to keep the increased interaction radius along with other Covid-centered features. One petition started by Justin Westfall has over 20,000 signatures. He writes in the petition’s description that “Even though there has been great progress in vaccinations there is no reason not to keep encouraging safe distance practices” and that the removal of these features “only makes the game worse for all players.”
The developers of Pokémon Go will start to remove features and changes from the game only after the conclusion of Pokémon Go Fest 2021 on July 18. Time will only tell how the company responds to the widespread backlash from players.