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Despite some major network issues during the first Pokémon GO Fest back in 2017, the yearly event has become a much-anticipated celebration for many Pokémon GO trainers across the globe. So, when the worldwide Pokémon GO Safari Zone events were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fans were obviously wondering how Niantic would handle this year's event. The answer is all digital.
Taking place over the weekend of July 25th and 26th, this year's GO Fest has a lot going on. There's a new in-game story and challenges. Five hourly-rotating habitats with a combined total of 75 Pokémon. A Global Challenge Arena. Integration with Niantic's upcoming social platform - aptly titled, Niantic Social. And Virtual Team Lounges for trainers to "connect [and] participate in fun activities and giveaways". There's no doubt this upcoming event is planned with the current global situation in mind.
During a press conference detailing proceedings, the team confirmed that of the 75 Pokémon featured, the majority will be made up of currently available monsters, although we can expect some surprises and Pokémon not necessarily found in players' regions.
It should be noted that the rotating habitats (Fire, Water, Grass, Battle and Friendship) will only be available on the first day of the event, with the second day being almost entirely under wraps. Niantic wants everything that happens to be a surprise. Fingers crossed for some Galarian legendary variants, recently revealed in the Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion trailer.
In the build up to the event, all trainers - including those who haven't purchased a ticket - will be able to take part in three weeks of weekly timed research challenges.
Alongside revealing features for the Pokémon GO Fest 2020 event, Niantic announced their new Local Business Recovery Initiative. Beginning today, Pokémon GO trainers will be able to nominate small local storefront businesses that would benefit from being "integrated into Pokémon GO" for a year at no charge. During the conference, it was revealed that to be considered to be a part of the 1000 selected, businesses must ideally have no more than 10 employees or only a few locations and be located in the United States, Japan, Great Britain, Canada or Mexico.
Successful candidates will receive their own PokéStop or Gym at their business location, in the hopes of attracting "real foot traffic" and "drive real sales" while also increasing awareness of the companies and boosting repeat visits. Not only will their location be added to the game, the company itself will be given tools to run campaigns at their location, including scheduled raid battles that could potentially line up with an in-store real-world promotion. Niantic hopes to get the successful companies set-up in the game by September, or when the region's lockdown measures can support the scheme.
Nominations are set to be closed on July 31st, so make sure to get yours in at the link here.
This whole idea seems like a great boost for smaller cafes, restaurants, book stores and game shops that will be struggling to recuperate lost profit during the COVID-19 pandemic. As mentioned above, only 1000 spaces are currently available for businesses, but if there's enough interest this could potentially be expanded to more.
Tickets for Pokémon GO Fest 2020 will go on sale today at 10AM PDT for $14.99 (UK price not yet confirmed), with the event taking place over the weekend of July 25th and 26th. The event profits will be donated to a variety of programmes in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Featured Image Credit: Niantic
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