Pokémon GO To End Certain Pandemic Bonuses: R.I.P. Incense

Niantic is certainly bold to announce this so soon after the Mega Evolution controversy. Earlier this year, the company made laudable changes to their games Pokémon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite to make them playable to players stuck at home in quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As restrictions have eased, Niantic has, for some time now, spoken about how some aspects of these bonuses would become permanent while others would be removed from the game. Now, after extending these bonuses every month, October 1st will see some of the fan-favorite changes leave the game.

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

Here's our breakdown of what is happening to these bonuses in Pokémon GO and what this means for players:

  • Trainers will be able to permanently hold twenty Gifts
  • The first catch of the day will receive triple Stardust and XP
  • Incense will continue to last for sixty minutes rather than the former thirty.
  • Half-hatch distance will be removed from Eggs. This one was expected and won't come as much of a blow to trainers. It was a nice bonus while in effect, but it wasn't one many expected to last.
  • Buddies will only bring Gifts once per day, and it will only work if the Gifts in your storage are depleted. Trainers will also likely not care about this one. It was controversial when Niantic removed the feature where Buddies brought PokéBalls during Community Day, but this is a loss that is to be expected.
  • PokéStops won't guarantee Gifts. This is likely a bonus that most trainers didn't even notice.
  • Incubators for Eggs will be included in more in-game boxes. Niantic knows that despite the complaints, Egg-centric events do well financially. This is to be expected.
  • And finally… the crushing blow for Pokémon GO players. Incense will only be increased in effectivity when trainers are walking. Incense was a game-changer during the pandemic, drawing one spawn to players every minute, minimum. This made the game something that could be played passively and actively… so to say that this is a controversial move would be an understatement. The only silver lining here is that Niantic recently increased spawn points, but this will come as an unwelcome surprise to players stuck at work who enjoyed passively checking spawns as well as rural players.

Niantic pledged to keep monitoring these bonuses. They'll likely have to monitor their social media as well because the Pokémon GO community is a critical one indeed… and this move will be controversial.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.