‘Pokémon GO’ is done with the pandemic – social mechanics set to return

Gotta catch them all, while maintaining suitable social distances

Pokémon GO developer Niantic has detailed its roadmap for returning the augmented-reality mobile game to pre-COVID gameplay.

Niantic announced the changes in a blog post yesterday (June 21). Moving forward, Pokémon GO will introduce new exploration bonuses that encourage going outdoors. Bonuses introduced during lockdown last year will also be removed or changed, starting in the U.S and New Zealand.

Niantic has confirmed it will retain some bonuses, such as the first catch of the day and GO Battle League bonuses.


Changes to Pokémon GO in the U.S and New Zealand will first take place at the end of July. In other territories the changes will be staggered. Niantic detailed how it wants to roll out the updates “when it makes sense for each place in the world, to help people play safely.”

Niantic fundamentally changed how Pokémon GO worked last year at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The game is typically played outdoors and encourages players to visit public landmarks in return for Pokémon and in-game items.

Galarian Mr. Mime Pokémon
Galarian Mr. Mime. Credit: Niantic/Pokémon

With large portions of the world in lockdown and staying indoors, Niantic changed how Pokémon GO worked. The developer increased the effectiveness of Incense, an item that would attract Pokémon to player locations.

A system in which a buddy Pokémon brings players gifts was also buffed, providing players with more free items on a daily basis. Items such as pokéballs and lures are a key element of gameplay, but they were initially collected through exploration.

The developer also increased the distance at which players could interact with Pokéstops and gyms within the game. This will be decreased in the announced changes, but only in locations where COVID is less of a threat.


Niantic also detailed how remote gameplay has become a large part of Pokémon GO over the past year, which is why the developer stated it wants to “find the right balance between remote play and in-person play.”

Sonic Team has announced that it has high hopes for the next major entry in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, which is currently in development.

Developer Takashi Iizuka compared the upcoming game to Sonic Adventure, which was the first title in the series to feature 3D gameplay.

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