Trainers, as many of you are aware, COVID-19 was elevated to pandemic status by the WHO (World Health Organization) on Wednesday, March 11th. This virus is affecting events inside and outside of our Pokémon GO Communities around the globe forcing companies to encourage social distancing as apart of their everyday routines.
Most governmental jurisdictions are trying to slow the spread of the virus, as to not overwhelm the health system, by encouraging social distancing as well as minimizing or banning large gatherings. While complete social isolation is not recommended, gathering in large groups is highly discouraged.
Don’t fret! While most large organizations are shutting down and canceling events, Niantic has decided to take measures to keep Trainers’ health and safety a top priority, while still allowing you a way to play this game we all know and love. Let’s look at some of the changes being made, along with ways you and your community can still play together while keeping each other safe.
As we are not public health experts here at G2G, please refer to the guidance from the CDC, WHO, or your country’s health organization for updates, guidance, and steps to take if you think you may have contracted the virus. Please remember it is highly recommended to contact the health care facility, over the phone, first.
Changes to compliment social distancing
On Thursday, March 12, 2020, Niantic announced that the following features will be effective in-game immediately until further notice.
- Habitats and Spawns will be increased. This will allow trainers to see and catch more Pokémon without traveling great distances.
- A Massive Discount on Incense. A one-time purchase of 30 Incense for 1 Pokécoin! Yes, 30 Incense for 1 Pokécoin. Incense usually costs 80PC, this is a 99.92% sale. Also, Incense will last twice as long. This is in an effort to let you play from your living room, or just walking your neighborhood.
- Half-Distance when Eggs are placed in Incubators. During this “change period” Incubators are now going to be twice as effective. This will allow you to reduce the amount of walking you need to do in order to hatch Eggs.
- Gifting. To reduce the amount of time required for in-game activities, PokéStops are more likely to drop gifts.
- Meltan Boxes. If you can get your hands on a Meltan Box during this time period, they will 1-full hour rather than 30 minutes
GO Battle League
Niantic went above and beyond making an additional announcement regarding changes for GO Battle League beginning on Friday, March 13, 2020 and lasting for approximately 30 days. At that point, they will assess the global circumstances and decide whether or not they will extend the duration.
- Removal of Walking Requirement. The walking requirement in GO Battle League to unlock sets will be removed. However, if you are in the middle of the set, it will take place your next set.
- Friend Requirements Lowered. You now only have to have “Good Friends” status in order to battle anyone. This means, all you have to do is earn one heart and boom, battle time!
- Raid Weekend Extensions. Cobalion and Lugia Raid Weekends have been extended to one week. Read more here.
- Safari Zone – St. Louis Postponement. Safari Zone St. Louis has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date. Those who purchased tickets have the option of a refund up until March 25th or can retain their tickets to play at home during that same schedule weekend. Read more here.
- Community Day Postponement. In an attempt to limit large gatherings, Niantic decided to postpone Abra Community Day to be rescheduled at a later date. In lieu of the postponement, the above in-game changes were made to promoted individual gameplay. Read more here.
- Ex Pass Suspension. Ex Passes will temporarily come to a halt until a later date. Those who have Ex Passes, or were gifted Ex Passes, will still have the opportunity to participate in those events.
- A Drive to Investigate. The recently announced Special Research Story debuting Genesect was re-designed in order to help promote social distancing. Although we are not sure of the exact tasks that will be asked to complete the research, we can confirm that large group participation will not be required.
- GBL – #GOBattlewithNiantic. Niantic, along with several community influencers are working together to promote the first season of GO Battle League with an opportunity for Trainers to enter a contest to win 8 Star Pieces! Terms and Conditions do apply. Read more here.
How do I play? What else is there to do?
PvP/GOBattleLeague – need I say more. It looks like now might be the time to get into PvP. This much sought after feature is finally here and Season 1 just started. A new contest called #GOBattlewithNiantic is also a fabulous new incentive being offered for those who are participating! See more here.
Niantic has also announced that the current T5 Raid Boss can be encountered as a PvP reward. While in the regular Prize Tier requires 4 wins, in the Premium Tier, only 2 wins are necessary. Premium Tier does cost a Raid Pass, but if you aren’t using them to raid, this is the perfect place to use your Passes. If you want or need help with PvP check out any of our resources on the topic.
Smaller Groups – Play in smaller groups in your neighborhood, and stay in the car IF this is allowed in your country. G2G does NOT condone or suggest you ever use your phone while driving, nor do we suggest you break the laws set forth in your country.
While it is discouraged to congregate in large groups, and those feeling under the weather should stay home, you do not have to totally halt your PoGO life. With increased spawns and Incense sale, this could be a perfect way to play as the Incense not only last longer, but they are producing more often as well.
Catch Up on Some of your Favorite Streamers – We have been so incredibly busy with event after event, maybe now would be a good time to catch up on some of your favorite streamer’s content (like PopeDave, Kaito Nolan, VergyVerg, and more!) on Twitch or YouTube.
How Do I Keep My Community Involved?
If you are a community leader you may be worried about how to balance keeping people engaged while keeping people safe. We’re here to help and give some advice.
Discord Bots – If your local uses Discord, there are a few bots that can bring catching Pokémon to your Discord. These bots can give players something else to play, compete over, and enjoy together. All without physically being together.
Remote PvP Tournaments – With the announcement of friend levels decreasing in order for more individuals to participate in PvP/GBL, remote tournaments are popping up left and right! Be sure to check GO Stadium and other popular PvP Discords for more information.
Contests/Scavenger Hunts – Host an AR contest. Our friends over in the POGO Photo Discord have some amazing AR contests that are easy to participate in and have fun!
Maybe your buddy is keeping you company while staying in for the night. Incense brings in some crazy spawns, compete and hold a vote on the craziest incense spawn. Create a hunt for something, the smallest Pidgey, the longest Ekans, etc. You could even turn this into a Bingo card. There are numerous apps and bots that will help create Bingo cards. You could also use this as a chance to see who can send the most gifts in a day.
Above all stay safe. Don’t feel like you have to play. Raid Bosses always come back, you can trade for something you miss, and there will be many many more events. The priority is to keep you, your family, and your friends safe and healthy to play another day!