Pokemon Go update encourages players to stay home


You can stock up on Incense for next to nothing

Social distancing and augmented-reality mobile games like Pokémon Go don’t exactly go hand in hand. With flights, events, conferences, and other gatherings postponed or outright canceled due to concerns over the coronavirus, should players just pack it in and stay home for the foreseeable future? (Probably!)

At least in Pokémon Go‘s case, the creator, Niantic, is tweaking the game to compensate.

“The safety of our global player community is our top priority,” the developer said. “COVID-19 is challenging us and the world to adjust. “We’re putting our focus on expanding features and experiences in our games that can be enjoyed in an individual setting and that also encourage exploration!”

The Abra Community Day event scheduled for March 15, 2020, was delayed indefinitely.

Going forward, “Pokémon habitats will increase and more Pokémon will be appearing in the wild,” “PokéStops will now drop Gifts more frequently,” and incubated Eggs will hatch in half the normal time.

Pokémon Go players can also now pick up a “one-time purchase bundle of 30 Incense for 1 PokéCoin.” Considering how much Incense normally costs – last I checked, it was 2,500 PokéCoins for 25 Incense – that’s a staggering price cut. One of these items will bring Pokémon to your location for an hour.

[Update 3/23: Niantic has made further stay-at-home changes to Pokémon Go including a 3x Stardust and XP bonus for your first catch of the day, weekly item bundles in the shop that cost only 1 PokéCoin, expanded room in your inventory for up to 20 gifts, and the ability to open 30 gifts daily.]

It’s going to be tough to adjust to the old values once Niantic reverts these changes.

I’m not a Pokémon Go regular, but almost everything I had lined up for the next several months was pushed back, canceled, or impacted by COVID-19. Everyone has been affected in big and small ways.

We’re fortunate that we have a hobby that lets us stay at home for long periods and not totally lose our minds, but that’s just the silver lining. I gotta say, it feels especially ominous to be a human right now.