Niantic have announced that they will be rolling back some of Pokémon Go’s in-game bonuses that were created to help players deal with the lockdowns and restricted travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.
From 9PM UK time on Thursday, 1st October, the following changes will be made:
- Hatch Distance will return to normal for Eggs.
- The increased effectiveness of Incense will now apply only while walking.
- Your Buddy Pokémon will now bring you Gifts only when you have nearly run out. This will happen only once per day.
- You will still have a higher chance of getting a Gift when you spin a PokéStop. However, you won’t be guaranteed to get a Gift.
However, many bonuses will remain:
- The maximum number of Gifts you can carry in your Item Bag at a time will remain at 20.
- You will continue to receive three times the Stardust and XP for your first Pokémon catch of the day.
- Incense duration will remain at 60 minutes.
There will also still be the ability to take part in raids remotely, the increased distance with which you can interact with Gyms and PokéStops will stay, and so are the changes to the Go Battle League.
The timing of this all feels a bit strange. While many countries locked down heavily in March, restrictions started to be lifted through the summer as the worst of the first peak of Covid-19 cases subsided. Governments have then faced a difficult balancing act in what is reopened and the kinds of restrictions that will remain in place. Through all of this, Pokémon Go’s bonuses have remained the same, helping players to continue to engage despite no longer commuting, going to school, or staying closer to home during leisure time and holidays.
However, we’re now seeing Covid-19 cases rise once more through many European countries, and we’re now facing the prospect of imposing fresh lockdowns once again. While the changes being made by Niantic are fairly minimal and could be seen as a way for the game to encourage people to still regularly get exercise each day, it’s debatable whether rolling back any of the changes sends the right message at this time.