One of the most common advice of medical professionals in this age of the COVID-19 pandemic (aside from washing your hands), is to just stay at home to create social distancing. Games that previously depended on going outside and playing with other people now have to find a way to still keep people playing while keeping them safe from the virus as well. Pokémon Go is one such game and now Niantic has taken some measures to make sure people can still play on their own and indoors.
First of all, obviously, they have postponed their Abra Community Day as this would have entailed people to go out and walk around and look for their Pokémons along with other players. Aside from that, they are also making changes effective immediately until further notice. For one thing, you can buy a bundle of 30 incense for 1 Pokécoin and each incense will last for an hour. Also, when you place eggs in your incubators, you only need half of a regular Hatch Distance.
You will now be able to get more Gifts in the Pokéstops and Pokémon habitats will also be increased. And so you won’t go around your area looking for those virtual cute monsters, more Pokémon will be appearing “in the wild”. These changes are already effective when you open your app and will last until further notice. Expect more features to be added or changes to happen over the next few weeks.
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
A spokesperson from Niantic says that they are now prioritizing creating features that would make it easier for their players to play on a non-social but individual settings. They are encouraging players to prioritize their health and that of their community before deciding what to do and where to go. It goes without saying that includes playing games like Pokémon Go.
It’s an opportunity for app and game developers to create features and even give out digital freebies tp encourage people to just self-quarantine and stay at home if they can for their own protection. We’ll probably see a lot of stories like this over the next few weeks.