Since its birth, Pokémon Go was a mobile game that highly encouraged people to go outside to play, explore, and socialize with other members of the community. But in these trying times, it’s hard, if not impossible, to keep up with that kind of gameplay.
Niantic Inc., the company behind Pokémon Go, recognizes that in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s not just hard but also possibly unsafe for players to continue with the usual gameplay. Therefore, they are announcing new changes and developments that will let players continue their Pokémon Go journey from the comforts of their own homes.
“We are adding to our product roadmap so we can enable more ways to play inside and around the home in the coming days and weeks, when the world needs it most,” says Niantic in a blog post.
The company already made prior changes to the game in response to the pandemic, like giving out Pokéballs for 1 Pokécoin (in-game currency) and increasing spawns globally. In addition to that, a couple more changes will reduce the need for players to go outside to play.
The Adventure Sync feature was initially used to record players’ movements even when the app isn’t open. Niantic is tweaking this so that it will be sensitive enough to track indoor movements as well, such as when you’re doing chores or running on a treadmill.
For its social aspect, Niantic says that players will be able to communicate with each other by enhancing the current in-game virtual social features. Gym raids, for example, can also be done at home. Players can team up with friends without having to meet at the actual raid location. The company wasn’t clear though on how they will be executing this.
Niantic is also developing a way for players to “virtually visit and share memories about their favorite real-world places.” From the sound of it, it seems like this will be a feature that will allow players to see and discover different locations without having to actually go there.
Lastly, the game’s highly-anticipated live events are being re-imagined. Niantic had already lined up a bunch of live events for this year, like the Safari Zone in Montreal, which, unfortunately, had to be postponed due to the current situation.
In response to that, Niantic is redesigning these live events so that players will be able to experience them at home. Specifically, they are directing their energy to find a new way to virtually host their biggest live event, the Pokémon Go Fest. The company will release details when available.
This courtesy is also being extended to Niantic’s other AR titles, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and Ingress. These include increased spawns for content, spell energy, and potion ingredients for Harry Potter players while Ingress players have an increased number of Portal hacks and reduced cooldown periods.
Players can still opt to play outside as long as it is permitted by authorities and practiced with proper social distancing. Niantic does reiterate that these changes are merely an alternative way to play in a time when normal gameplay can’t be achieved.