‘Pokémon Go’ pivots to support at-home play


  • TECH
  • Wednesday, 25 Mar 2020

Niantic is reversing the flow of play in ‘Pokémon Go’, making creatures find players. — Niantic/The Pokémon Company

Mobile app Pokémon Go has been reinventing itself to cope with Covid-19 conditions.

At launch in 2016, Pokémon Go had to prevent players from spoofing their location by artificial means — playing from home while whizzing from place to place in the game.

Now, game studio Niantic is re-orienting the popular mobile app to help players stay where they are and stay involved in the game, per a March 23 announcement.

A triple bonus for a first Pokémon catch (which can take place in the home), an increase on daily gifting allowance to 30, and a rotating selection of inexpensive 1 PokéCoin bundles encourage and reward players for treating Pokémon Go as a standard mobile game.

In addition, Niantic is cancelling a group activity, the Lugia Raid, that would have run March 24 to 31.

Perhaps controversially, given the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic, the event had previously been extended rather than outright cancelled.

The changes reduce the Pokémon Go fanbase’s impetus to travel beyond their immediate surroundings at a time when governments around the world instruct citizens to remain at home, drastically minimising opportunities for Covid-19 infection.

Niantic had already halved the distance players needed to walk in order to hatch a virtual egg, made PokéStops drop Gifts more frequently, further reducing players' daily coverage, and increased the quantity of Pokémon appearing in the wild in a March 12 modification.

Players can also continue to make a one-off purchase of 30 Incense, a virtual item that attracts Pokémon to a single player, in exchange for a single PokéCoin (25 Incense usually cost 1,250 PokéCoins).

Pokémon Go was not only at the forefront of Augmented Reality and geo-location mobile games, but carved out an incredibly lucrative niche for itself, accruing an estimated US$894mil (RM3.92bil) in 2019 via optional player spending, per Sensor Tower's industry analysis. — AFP Relaxnews

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