As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the world, entire businesses and industries are shifting to accommodate increased social distancing. In the case of Pokémon Go, a game that typically requires you to go out into the real world and congregate around points of interest, Niantic will temporarily change various mechanics to help increase the safety of its players.
In a statement to Polygon, a Niantic representative said that the studio is currently “prioritizing updates to Pokémon GO features and experiences that can be enjoyed in individual settings.” Notably, the game will be increasing habitats so that trainers can see more monsters nearby while playing closer to home.
Incense packs, which increase monster spawns, are also going on 99% discount — and when they’re active, they will now last an hour.
Incubators, which ask players to accrue a certain number of steps before hatching eggs containing Pokémon, will now be more effective. “Trainers can hatch Eggs twice as fast,” Niantic said.
Finally, PokéStops are dropping Gifts with more frequency. All of these changes are in effect immediately, and will continue until “further notice,” Niantic told Polygon. In addition to these tweaks, Niantic has already postponed its previously-planned Abra Community Day, along with some other real-world events. Existing events, such as the first season of the game’s Battle League, will allow players to compete with one another without being in the same place, while the upcoming Special Research adventure that will debut Genesect will require tasks that can be “completed by individuals,” Niantic says.
“While we’ve made these updates based on the current global health situation, we also encourage players to make decisions on where to go and what to do that are in the best interest of their health and the health of their communities,” Niantic said.