Augmented Reality game Pokemon Go is dialing back on changes it introduced during the pandemic, originally rolled out so players could safely play from home.
Its developer Niantic said it was ending several features, mostly those that removed the incentive to walk and exercise outside, one of the game’s original objectives.
“When possible, people are generally encouraged to spend time outside, go on walks, and exercise for their mental and physical health – all while social distancing and abiding by other health and safety recommendations,” it said in a blog post.
Starting Oct 1 at 1pm GMT-7 (Oct 2, 5am local time), it would stop the following bonuses: halving hatch distances for eggs, Incense working even when static, as well as increased odds of collecting gifts.
Players have to walk a certain distance to hatch eggs containing rare monsters, thus removing the bonus would require users to walk more.
The same applies for the Incense item (which attracted Pokemon to be caught) and collecting gifts, which would now require users to walk more to fully utilise the features.
Niantic was keeping several features that would encourage social distancing, such as the ability to interact with points of interest (Poke Stops) from a greater distance and raid remotely.
Raids were battles that typically required groups of players to play on location, though remote raids allowed them to play from a distance instead.
The game would also continue certain temporary bonuses that the company said improved the overall gameplay experience.
This included getting more resources for catching Pokemon, being able to hold on to more gifts at once, and having the Incense item last for 60 minutes instead of 30 previously.
“We’re continuously monitoring the ever-evolving global situation and are working hard to reschedule previously planned live events to 2021. Health and safety are of the utmost importance,” assured Niantic.
The company also reminded players to follow guidelines from local health authorities when playing.
In a previous report, Niantic development head John Hanke said the game makers were balancing changes to see if it would improve the game or simply replace real-world activities.
Niantic said it would gradually reduce the distance for players to interact with points of interest, as the risk of infection decreases.
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