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I'm sure you've probably noticed that the world is currently dealing with a global outbreak. I also imagine that you're probably as sick of reading about COVID-19 (coronavirus) as I am writing/talking/thinking about it. There's no getting around the fact that this is a pretty serious situation, but it will all be alright in the end. And if it's not alright? It's not the end.
Already organisations around the world are doing their bit to help limit the spread of the virus and reduce any potential damage. Events like GDC and E3 2020 have been cancelled. Schools are closing and businesses are sending their staff to work from home wherever possible. Brilliantly, even Pokémon GO is making some smart and much-needed changes to ensure that everybody stays safe.
In a new blog post, developer Niantic laid out a number of updates to the game all designed to keep folk from spreading or catching anything nasty. While the blog post didn't mention coronavrius specifically, a statement later obtained by Polygon, explained that the updates are "based on the current global health situation". Naturally, players are being asked to "make decisions on where to go and what to do that are in the best interest of their health and the health of their communities."
Niantic's massively popular mobile game has always been about getting out in the world and interacting with it - something experts across the globe are currently begging us all not to do. So what's Pokémon GO supposed to do to keep players happy and invested during a period where self isolation is advised (and in some cases imposed)?
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As per the update, we should all be enjoying Pokémon GO in "individual settings" right now. So until further notice, Niantic is offering a 30-pack of Incense, which lures more monsters than usual to wherever you are, for a single PokéCoin. Incense will also now remain active for an hour, instead of the usual half an hour.
Meanwhile, the amount of steps required to hatch eggs has been halved, and PokéStops will drop gifts way more often so that players aren't hanging around any longer than they need to be. Niantic will also be making it so that Pokémon are more likely to appear near homes in quieter areas more frequently, in an attempt to discourage people from heading into towns and cities.
These are all smart and responsible actions on Niantic's part. If you're still playing Pokémon GO, do be sure to take advantage of these new updates, and make sure you're playing safely.
Featured Image Credit: Niantic
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