Niantic makes changes to its games in response to COVID-19

Pokémon Go developer Niantic has made changes to the game to enable players to continue participating even whilst in self-isolation.

Pokémon Go has long been touted as a healthy game that enables people to participate in video games whilst remaining active. In light of COVID-19, however, the developer has announced changes to curtail mass gatherings and enable people to keep playing even at home with shorter Pokémon Eggs hatch times, more PokéStops rewards, and boosted Pokémon spawn rates.

For at least the next 30 days, the new PvP mode, Go Battle League, no longer requires players to walk – or pay – to play, and players involved in the Silph Road’s monthly cup can challenge friends without needing to scan QR codes in-person. Players wishing to participate in tournaments can do so remotely, too (thanks, Eurogamer).

The Abra Community Day event has been postponed, and any new, invite-only EX raids have also been cancelled for now. A similar Community Day has also been cancelled for Wizards Unite.

Niantic recently announced it is partnering with Qualcomm Technologies for a “multi-year joint collaboration on an integrated design spanning AR glasses reference hardware, software, and cloud-components”. 

Less than a week ago, organisers of E3 – the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) – insisted it was continuing to “plan for a safe and successful” show later this year whilst “actively assessing” the coronavirus outbreak. Now E3 2020 has been cancelled, as has EGX Rezzed, GDC, and both Mojang and Electronic Arts have cancelled scheduled live events, and Bungie, EA, Nintendo and now Rockstar have all implemented homeworking to minimise staff exposure to the virus. BAFTA has also confirmed it’s revising the format on its upcoming Games Awards in light of the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), too. 

A number of publishers have teamed up to create GDC Relief Fund to assist indie devs who may have lost money on paying in advance for the now-cancelled GDC.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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