Niantic announced its biggest-ever update to its flagship Pokémon Go location-based mobile game with changes including an increase in the level cap from 40 to 50 and new seasons with special content.
The San Francisco company said it is rebalancing leveling up in the game with a bunch of new features designed to make the game more fun starting on November 30.
Pokémon Go debuted in the summer of 2016 and it has more than a billion downloads to date. The game generated $1 billion in 2020 as players entertained themselves during the pandemic and Niantic modified the game so players could play wherever they were. And its lifetime revenue has surpassed $4 billion, according to measurement firm Sensor Tower.
Veronica Saron, product marketing manager for Pokémon Go at Niantic, said in a press briefing the company had to pivot early in 2020 to deal with the pandemic. The update is about making lapsed players come back, getting new players to come aboard, and giving veteran players something new to achieve.
Above: Pokémon Go’s new update is dubbed Go Beyond.
“Niantic is all about encouraging real-world social through shared experiences in augmented reality, and Pokémon Go is the embodiment of this vision,” Saron said. “Our goal in 2020 was to make our game a shining light, a healthy outlet for everyone in challenging circumstances. We know how many people around the world depend on Niantic games dependent on us to be a source of joy for them, and we aren’t going to leave our fans hanging.”
Players who have lapsed will find that they can come back and catch up as you can earn more XP from catching Pokémon creatures, evolving Pokémon, hatching eggs, registering new Pokédex entries, and more. If you have a Level 50 Mewtwo, it will be more powerful in combat than a Level 40 Mewtwo.
In some cases, the XP earned will be as much as double what it was before, so it’ll be easier than ever for players to catch up to their higher-level friends.
Players who reach level 40 before the end of the year can earn the title of Legacy 40 Trainer with rewards such as Timed Research that gives the player a Gyarados Hat avatar item and a medal. Double XP will be live from November 18 at 1 p.m. local time to December 31 at 11:59 p.m. local time.
Above: Pokémon Go
Pokémon Go will also be introducing Candy XL. These candies will be required to power up Pokémon to higher CP than was previously possible, and can be acquired either by catching Pokémon or by converting and combining Candy into Candy XL. There will also be other ways to obtain Candy XL.
Niantic is also introducing its 12 Days of Friendship event starting today. Friendship levels will increase faster than normal through opening gifts, trading Pokémon, or battling together in raids, gyms, or Trainer Battles.
And players will see updates to other parts of the game including encountering and catching Pokémon, Adventure Sync, Buddy Adventure, Field Research, Gifts, and more. Australia will get the redesign for level caps first.
Niantic is introducing Go Beyond, which is the brand name for the update. It is adding new seasons, and it is adding Pokémon originally discovered in the Kalos region to the game.
Starting Wednesday, December 2, 2020, players can find Pokémon in the Kalos region. Pokémon such as Chepsin, Fennekin, Froakie, Fletchling, and their Evolutions will be coming soon.
Pokémon Go will now change with the seasons. Every three months, you can expect to see a new season that brings different Pokémon appearing in the wild or hatching from eggs or appearing in raids.
Asked how the weather will affect the game, product manager Tre Fitgerald said in a press briefing, “Pokemon will continue to appear slightly differently depending on what your weather is, but they’ll also change slightly differently depending on your season. So I think you’ll need to keep an eye out for exactly how those two interplay with each other.”
Some Pokémon will be more difficult to find depending on the season. Pokémon related to winter will be appearing in the northern hemisphere, while summer Pokémon will appear in the southern hemisphere. The first season begins on December 1 at 8 a.m. local time.
Above: Pokémon Go will now go up to 50 levels.
There will also be changes to the Go Battle League, which will expand from 10 to 24 ranks. More details will be out later.
“We felt that it was important to end the year with one final promise, a whole new set of ways to enjoy Pokémon Go,” Saron said. “Whether you’re a level 40 trainer and needed a new challenge, or you haven’t played Pokémon Go in months, and want to rejoin our game community at just the right time. That time is now. There has never been a better time to come back to this game.”
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