The quick spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us all to adapt to a low-contact life on the fly. "All" even includes Niantic, the makers of social apps like Pokemon Go. Abra Community Day, which was scheduled for this Sunday, has been postponed. Niantic's also implemented changes to Pokemon Go that should make the game easier to play from home.
The safety of our global player community is our top priority. COVID-19 is challenging us and the world to adjust. We’re putting our focus on expanding features and experiences in our games that can be enjoyed in an individual setting and that also encourage exploration!— Niantic, Inc. (@NianticLabs) March 13, 2020
Niantic lists the changes—all of which are in place until further notice—on the official Pokemon Go blog as well as a tweet it made yesterday. Niantic says it's "putting our focus on expanding features and experiences in our games that can be enjoyed in an individual setting," and has adjusted accordingly:
- Incense, which attracts more Pokemon to your area, now comes in a bundle of 30 and costs 1 PokeCoin. The usual price for Incense is 1 for 40 PokeCoins, or 8 for 250 PokeCoins. An Incense also lasts for an hour instead of the usual 30 minutes.
- The walking distance necessary to hatch Pokemon Eggs has been halved. For example, a 10 km Egg now needs 5 km.
- PokeStops now drop gifts more frequently. I can confirm this one for myself. When I was out and about yesterday, I got a gift at pretty much every PokeStop I visited.
- More Pokemon will spawn in the wild. I can't confirm this as easily because my area was never lacking for spawns, but theoretically people in more rural areas should notice a difference.
While the postponement of Abra Community Day is a downer—albeit a downer for a good cause—Niantic's adjustments to Pokemon Go are thoughtful. The Incense and increased spawns will let you catch more Pokemon while you're at home (or in bed, if you've been struck down), and the reduced kilometer requirements for Egg hatching gives you some motivation to get a little fresh air away from crowds.
If you're looking to play some Pokemon Go while everyone's collective chips are down, we have tons of guides to help you along. Stay safe, and wash your hands.