Niantic Extends Pandemic Bonus In Pokémon GO, But For How Long?

Niantic has once again extended the bonuses in Pokémon GO that allow trainers to keep playing the game despite the current global situation. Though restrictions have eased in many places, the COVID-19 pandemic is not over and is, in many areas, worsening. The Pokémon GO bonuses were set to expire this week, but have been extended for thirty-three additional days. With the future uncertain, though, and Pokémon GO players adjusting to this new way of life and gameplay, how long should Niantic keep each of these bonuses? Some of them have become such integral aspects of gameplay since their introduction that removing them could be a risky move for the company. Here is what each bonus means for players, and Bleeding Cool's take on what Niantic should and, in some cases, must do.

Candela and Litwick in Pokémon GO. Credit: Niantic.
Candela and Litwick in Pokémon GO. Credit: Niantic.

2x Incense Duration

This can, and likely will, be removed from the game in the coming months. Incense, which draws Pokémon to players wherever they are, generally lasts for thirty minutes. The current bonuses boost it to an hour. Incense is very cheap in shop, with eight available in a bundle for 250 PokéCoins. Eight incenses without the current doubled duration would yield a Pokémon every minute for four hours, for almost the same price as a Super Incubator, which would only hatch three Pokémon total from eggs. Even without the doubled time, it's currently the best deal in the shop.

Increased Incense effectiveness

Here is the catch, though: the one Pokémon per minute is also a bonus. This must stay in the game, as it turned Incense from a useless item that would, at best, draw six Pokémon to trainers over the course of thirty minutes to the most useful item in the shop. Niantic would be missing out on countless revenue by curbing this bonus as opposed to making it a standard part of the game.

Open 1.5x as many Gifts

This is staying in-game, as event boss of Niantic Michael Sterenka said in an interview with Eurogamer. "The game's expanded limit of holding and sending gifts will become standard."

Hold 2x as many Gifts in your Item Bag

Same as above: staying in the game.

Current bonuses in Pokémon GO. Credit: Niantic.
Current bonuses in Pokémon GO. Credit: Niantic.

No walking requirement for the GO Battle League

In the same interview, Niantic's Sterenka confirmed that this would be removed from the game in future seasons, though it is currently in place for Season Three. Walking distances, Sterenka said, will return "in a way that makes sense." This is understandable, as it ties into Pokémon GO's central philosophy of getting up and going out. While the Incense bonuses turn a useless item into an essential one, GO Battle League is still a relatively new feature, so changes like this make sense in order to tie it into the overall purpose of the game.

1/2 Hatch Distance

This bonus that allows Eggs to be hatched quicker will and, though it will be missed, should go. It would make sense to remove this when restrictions are fully lifted.

Boosted damage for Trainers battle remotely in raids

Now, the hard part: figuring out Remote Raids in a game designed to make Pokémon GO trainers explore the world. Being able to Remote Raid allows players to instantly join any raid on their map, but Niantic should be careful about changing this. The boosted damage makes it seem as if Remote Raiders currently do more damage to Raid Bosses than trainers present at the raid, but that is not the case. Instead, it means that Remote Raiders have a 50% damage cut that Niantic is currently waiving but will bring back. This is inadvisable to say the least, as would be removing the other raiding bonuses below.

Inviting friends to a raid can be done remotely

Currently, Pokémon GO trainers can use Raid Invites when Remote Raiding. When Niantic ends this bonus, trainers will have to be in person at the Raid in order to invite friends. This makes Remote Raiding overall a less useful feature and will cut off interest in Raid Invites, a new feature which Niantic is raking in the funds on. Removing these two bonuses, which have boosted Friend interaction and the social aspect of Pokémon GO as well as allowing rural trainers who have struggled to complete raids in the past, would be a major mistake for the company.

More trainers battling remotely allowed in raids

As with the above, Remote Raids and Raid Invites should stay as is. Instead of introducing new features only to take away everything interesting about them, Niantic should create new and different incentives for Pokémon GO trainers to get out.

Currently, the above bonuses are in-game for thirty-three more days. Hopefully, Niantic does the right thing, which, funny enough, is also the thing that will make them more money, and allow some of the above to become a permanent part of Pokémon GO.

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About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.
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