Bottom line: The coronavirus may have you cooped up in your home, but you don't have to be alone. Niantic wants you to still be able to play Pokémon Go from your living room or backyard. It's temporarily modifying the game so that you can remain a recluse until the coronavirus has run its course.
Niantic has released updates to Pokémon Go that make it easier to play indoors. Polygon reports that the developer said it is “prioritizing” features that can be enjoyed in an individualized setting.
Usually, the game involves running around outside and congregating at specific points of interest to catch the little monsters using augmented reality. However, due to the coronavirus scare, Niantic wants to create an experience that does not require getting close to other people.
“While we’ve made these updates based on the current global health situation, we also encourage players to make decisions on where to go and what to do that are in the best interest of their health and the health of their communities,” said the company.
Niantic altered several of the game's mechanics and and added more habitats to allow trainers to chase the critters while staying closer to home.
To help things along, Incense packs are now available at a 99-percent discount. Incense increases the monsters spawn rates for a short period. The effectiveness of these lures will also now last an hour. Additionally, incubators now require far fewer steps to hatch a Pokémon.
“Trainers can hatch Eggs twice as fast,” said the developer regarding the incubators.
Speaking of Eggs, PokéStops are dropping Eggs and Poké Balls much more frequently. PokéStops are places in the real world, like monuments or historical markers, where it is easier to find these items. It is unclear if Niantic is going to move the stops away from public gathering places, though.
The updates have already gone into effect, but will only be temporary. Niantic did not mention how long Pokémon Go would be set up like this, only saying that it would be “until further notice.” This most certainly means until the COVID-19 hysteria is over.
In addition to all of these changes, the developer has postponed several community gatherings that it had planned. Other events, such as the game’s Battle League, will go as scheduled but have been modified so that players can compete against each other from a distance instead of being in the same place.
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