Niantic shares more details on how it intends to modify Pokémon Go and Wizards Unite following COVID-19 lockdowns

Pokémon Go developer Niantic has sent a message to its community to explain how its games and live events have been adapted to accommodate isolation and lockdown in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Niantic founder and CEO, John Hanke, reached out to extend the company’s “best wishes for your wellness at this time of unprecedented challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic” and outlined that with a changing world, Niantic too is changing. 

“We created Niantic with a mission to help people get outside, exercise, and explore the world, with the ultimate goal of helping people connect with others,” Hanke wrote. “Today we support a global community of hundreds of millions of people who look to our games for regular entertainment and an opportunity to get outside, exercise and connect with friends. 

“We have always believed that our games can include elements of indoor play that complement the outdoor, explore and exercise DNA of what we build. Now is the time for us to prioritise this work, with the key challenge of making playing indoors as exciting and innovative as our outdoor gameplay.”

The company’s product roadmap now includes plans to enable better indoor play, including making Adventure Sync work better with indoor activities. Niantic is also “enhancing out in-game virtual social features to enable friends to stay in touch”. Eventually, players will be able to raid “from the comfort of home”, too. There are also plans to explore how the company can “help players virtually visit and share memories about their favourite real-world places” and “re-imagine” live events, including “an entirely new way to enjoy Pokémon Go Fest”. 

There are also changes coming to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, too, and the team has increased the amount of content that’s near them on the map so players “should see Spell Energy, more iconic Harry Potter content, and rare potions ingredients that help them make progress”. 

“We look forward to the day when we can once again play together with family and friends in parks and public places without endangering ourselves or others,” Hanke concluded. “When the world is ready for that, we’ll be ready too.”

Pokémon Go developer Niantic has already 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.

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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