Niantic To Roll Out Post-Pandemic Exploration Bonuses In Pokémon GO

Along with this week's news that Niantic is finally removing many of the extended pandemic bonuses from Pokémon GO, the mobile game developer announced new "exploration bonuses" meant to encourage players to get out in the world. I've written here before that the key for Niantic is to strike a balance between the old ways of the game and the new, post-pandemic Pokémon GO by adding incentive to go out rather than removing the features that have come to be status quo for more than a year now. Well, now we know what that's going to look like, and it does indeed come at the cost of the pandemic bonuses. Let's take a look.

Pokémon GO logo. Credit: Niantic
Pokémon GO logo. Credit: Niantic

On the official Pokémon GO blog, the Niantic marketing team, which is surely having a rough week considering the reactions to both the pandemic pull-back and the latest update, wrote:

Starting at the end of July, the following exploration bonuses will roll out to Trainers for testing first in the U.S. and New Zealand.

Trainers will:

Receive up to two free Raid Passes per day from spinning Gym Photo Discs.

Hey, that's not bad. The thing is, we still don't know if Niantic will follow through and nerf remote raiding yet as originally planned. They've said they're still figuring out that one. This would be a good way to incentivize in-person raiding with these two free passes. I can't say I often use my free pass, but if there are two… maybe I'll think about it more. I personally don't know, but this seems like a decent idea. It would seem like a better idea, though, if it were permanently added to Pokémon GO. Read on to see when these end.

Benefit from increased Incense effectiveness while moving.

This not being a permanent aspect of Pokémon GO is so weird to me, unless it's going to be insanely, insanely buffed.

Be guaranteed gifts when spinning PokéStops so long as they have not reached their maximum gift inventory.


Receive 10x bonus XP from spinning a PokéStop for the first time.

Arguably the best bonus here, and one that makes sense to not remain permanent. As for when these end:

These bonuses will end when the Season of Discovery wraps up September 1, 2021. Some of these bonuses may stay rolling into the following season, and new bonuses will become available as well.

This is all interesting to say the least. I do personally want to be excited to get outdoors and play Pokémon GO again and, to be frank, while I loved the pandemic bonuses, I feel it changed my play style in a negative way. This is a pervasive feeling that I've seen when talking to people. The initial few months of remote raiding and at-home Incense were thrilling, but the sheer amount of content to enjoy at home all at once felt impossible to maintain. We knew something would happen, though I do wish the changes to Pokémon GO's pandemic bonuses had been lighter and the incentives to get out were much, much stronger than the above.

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About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.
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