Game News

Big Changes are Coming for Pokémon GO as COVID-19 Pandemic Winds Down

Some COVID bonuses will stay, others will be changed

by Kyle Hanson

Big-Changes-are-Coming-for-Pokemon-GO-as-COVID-19-Pandemic-Winds-Down

The COVID-19 pandemic caused unimaginable changes around the world, including in the realm of video games. Few games were as hard hit as Pokémon GO though, with its real world exploration focus specifically impacted by lockdowns and restrictions. To combat this developer Niantic introduced various bonuses that have now lasted for many months. But as some countries are getting a handle on the virus thanks to widely available vaccines or successful government safety measures, Niantic is ready to start rolling some of these bonuses back. But it’s not all bad news, with some changes remaining permanently and other bonuses being added to take their place. Just like some parts of the world, Pokémon GO looks to be getting back to normalcy with a little change sticking around permanently.

Pokémon GO COVID-19 Pandemic Changes

Let’s start with the bad news. Starting after Pokémon GO Fest 2021 in July Niantic will begin rolling back some of the bonuses and changes that were introduced to players to help with lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these will stick around, while others will be slowly rolled back in select countries as they begin returning to normal. This will begin in New Zealand and the United States before moving to other countries as their pandemic situation improves. Here’s what to expect once these bonuses start getting rolled back.

Pokémon GO Pandemic Bonuses to be Removed

  • Incense effectiveness will be returned to normal with a boost when a player is moving
  • Buddy Pokémon will return to the normal rate of gifts
  • Gym and Poké Stop distance will be returned to normal after being extended
    • This may return in future events or on an as-needed basis
  • Remote Raids will be changed based on feedback
  • EX Raids will return soon

However, it’s not all removals and returning to normal. Some bonuses will remain, while new ones will be introduced to encourage players to get back outside exploring as Pokémon GO was originally intended. Here’s the changes that will remain in place.

Pokémon GO Pandemic Bonuses to Remain

  • Incense duration will remain at 60 minutes.
  • No walking requirement for GO Battle League.
  • You can challenge any Trainer remotely with a QR Code, and the requirement to battle with friends remotely has been lowered to Good Friends.
  • The maximum number of Gifts you can carry in your Item Bag at a time will remain at 20.
  • Trainers will be able to open up to 30 Gifts per day, up from the previous 20.
  • You will continue to receive three times the Stardust and XP for your first Pokémon catch of the day.

And on top of these will come some new bonuses meant to get players back outside interacting with their environment and their fellow Pokémon GO players.

New Pokémon GO Bonuses Post-Pandemic

  • Receive up to two free Raid Passes per day from spinning Gym Photo Discs.
  • Benefit from increased Incense effectiveness while moving.
  • Be guaranteed gifts when spinning PokéStops so long as they have not reached their maximum gift inventory.
  • Receive 10x bonus XP from spinning a PokéStop for the first time.

These new bonuses are set to end on September 1st, the last day of the Season of Discovery. However, some may stick around while new ones may be added as well based on player feedback.

All of these changes are currently only slated for the US and New Zealand and only starting on July 23rd. Other countries will be added as their situation dictates. You can view which bonuses are active in your area by checking the Today menu in Pokémon GO.

- This article was updated on July 9th, 2021

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