In this July 26, 2016 photo, people play Pokemon Go near the Atomic Bomb Dome at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan. (AP Photo/Kyodo News via AP)
New updates to location-based mobile games “Pokémon Go” and “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” mean that players don’t have to go as far and wide in order to keep up their progression.
In apparent recognition of coronavirus-related inactivity, “Pokémon Go” developer Niantic has initiated a handful of changes to its popular location-tracking app.
The adjustments come as schools, colleges, workplaces and governing bodies encourage residents to stay in place, suppressing the COVID-19 virus’ transmission rate.
For example, as a location-based Android and iOS app, “Pokémon Go” is halving the distance players need to walk in order to successfully incubate a virtual egg.
In other words, players shouldn’t have to endanger themselves or their neighbors.
Additionally, PokéStops will drop Gifts more frequently—so players can visit the same ones more often, reducing their daily geographical coverage—while Pokémon habitats are being increased, and more Pokémon will appear in the wild, Niantic said in a March 12 announcement.
Players can also make a one-off purchase of 30 Incense, a virtual item that attracts Pokémon to a single player, in exchange for a single PokéCoin (25 Incense usually cost 1,250 PokéCoins).
PokéCoins themselves are normally bought for $0.99 for 100, but single coins are earned each time a Pokémon returns from a Gym location.
With Incense’s active time being increased from 30 minutes to one hour, and its effect applying to single players, the adjustment rewards social distancing, in keeping with World Health Organization coronavirus guidelines.
In addition, a worldwide meet-up event, Abra Community Day, was originally scheduled for March 15, but is now being postponed.
“Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” has also postponed its March Community Day. Both events had already been postponed in Japan, South Korea and Italy.
Perhaps controversially for some, then, two sets of upcoming “Pokémon Go” Special Raid Eventweekends, in which groups of up to 20 players congregate in an attempt to defeat a Legendary-tier Raid Boss, have not been canceled outright but will instead last a full week rather than four days.
Therefore, Cobalion will be available to challenge from March 17 to 23 (instead of March 20 to 23) and Lugia will be made available from March 24 to March 31 (instead of March 27 to 30).
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