Augmented reality mobile game Pokémon GO recently released several updates, including one of its biggest updates aimed toward promoting physical activity. Released Nov. 5 to players level 5 and up, the new Adventure Sync feature tracks players’ walking distances even when the game is not launched.
Niantic, the game’s developer, reported that 70% of 2,000 surveyed players felt motivated to walk more as a result of playing Pokémon GO. Additionally, 64% said the game motivated them to go outdoors, and 47% indicated their physical activity level had increased since playing.
“This type of response from the community reinforces our commitment to not only create innovative real-world games, but also to invest in features like Adventure Sync, which provides a gentle but effective motivation loop that encourages people to get outside and be active every day,” explained Niantic in an Oct. 25 press release.
To use the new feature, players must opt into Adventure Sync and allow it to connect to a fitness tracking app such as Apple Health or Google Fit. Once connected, Adventure Sync works in the background to track steps and distances that can be used for hatching Pokémon Eggs and earning Buddy Candy. The new feature also provides players with a weekly summary of their physical activity statistics, such as the number of calories burned, as well as the number of steps and kilometers walked. Players can also earn rewards for every 5, 25, and 50 km walked per week.
“I’m really grateful for the Adventure Sync feature. I’m hatching the annoying 7 km eggs much faster, my phone battery is lasting longer, and I am happy to not always have the game on in order to get my kilometers,” praised Maddie Casper, a Junior in the Aerospace and Occupational Safety program. “The only thing I would say I don’t like about the feature is that it doesn’t always notify me when my Pokémon gets a candy, when an egg hatches, or when I meet one of the weekly achievements, but that is a small price to pay for the benefits it provides.”
Another major recent update to the mobile game was the addition of Generation 4 Pokémon. According to Eurogamer, the Gen 4 update is the second largest addition of new Pokémon since the game’s original release. The 107 new creatures of Gen 4 are being released in stages, with approximately 35 currently available in the game.
Pokémon GO also recently hosted a Community Day event on Nov. 10. First launched in January 2018, Community Day is a monthly limited-time event that encourages players to come together. Each Community Day features increased spawn rates of a particular Pokémon, along with exclusive moves and resource bonuses that are available during the three-hour duration of the event. Shiny versions of the Community Day Pokémon also tend to be released during these events, giving players a chance to collect a rare alternate coloration of the Pokémon. The November Community Day featured fire-type Generation II starter Cyndaquil and provided players with double Catch XP and Catch Stardust bonuses. Other recent events and updates included Pokémon GO Halloween, Special Raid Challenges, new Field and Special Research tasks and rewards, as well as the limited-time release of two new shiny Pokémon.
Even with all of the game’s recent updates, players still think the mobile game would benefit from the addition of more features and capabilities. “I would like to see more events that involve legendary or mythical Pokémon since it’s impossible to obtain them otherwise,” suggested Alexzandria Valentine, a Senior in the Aeronautical Science program. “I wish it would be possible to battle your friends on an individual level instead of only through gyms where you aren’t really actively battling each other,” added Casper.
In other game news, Pokémon hit a new platform with the Nov. 16 release of Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! for the Nintendo Switch. The new games can be synced to Pokémon GO, allowing players to transfer Pokémon caught in GO to the Nintendo Switch games. Up to 1,000 Pokémon from GO can be stored in the new games and there is no limit to the number of GO accounts that can be synced to a single save file in the Nintendo games.
Pokémon will also hit the big screen on May 10, 2019 with the release of Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, an action-adventure movie based on the Nintendo game of the same name. The live-action film features a talking Pikachu voiced by Ryan Reynolds that partners with a young man (played by Justice Smith) who is looking for his missing father. The first comedic, action-packed trailer was released by Warner Bros. Pictures on Nov. 12 and gathered over 35 million views within three days.
According to VG247, Pokémon Go has grossed over $2 billion worldwide and has been downloaded 522 million times since the game’s release in July 2016. With the addition of so many new features, events, cross-platform updates, and upcoming film ventures, the game is working hard to retain active players, attract new players, and spark a renewed interest in previous players. More events and updates are expected to be released before the end of the year.
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