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Pokémon Go’s pandemic gameplay tweaks will stay (mostly)

Adjustments to Pokémon Go play coming Oct. 1

Pokémon Go: Gym Battle Photo: James Bareham/Polygon
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Since March, Pokémon Go developer Niantic has made a series of tweaks to the gotta-catch-’em-all mobile game to adapt to the global coronavirus pandemic. Pokémon Go has become much more playable from home, without the need to venture out of doors or go on long walks. Changes have included the ability to join Raids from far away, free daily gifts, and shorter distance requirements to hatch in-game eggs.

Some of the changes to Pokémon Go will become become permanent fixtures of the game (for the foreseeable future, anyway), Niantic said in a blog post on Tuesday, while some gameplay adjustments will revert to their pre-pandemic ways.

The following bonuses will remain in Pokémon Go, Niantic said:

  • 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.

The following changes (or reversions) will come to Pokémon Go on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 1 p.m. PDT:

  • 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.

As for events like Pokémon Go Fest and Safari Zones, all of which were canceled this year, Niantic says it’s “continuously monitoring the ever-evolving global situation and are working hard to reschedule previously planned live events to 2021.”

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