Though not in the massive droves that came with the launch of the game, you’ll still see a few people out in public trying to catch-em-all, and the developers are continuing to enhance the application. Niantic is celebrating the first anniversary of Pokemon Go with co-op raids, a reworked gym system, new items, and more.
The Pokéstop system is one of the coolest aspects of the Pokemon Go experience, one that businesses used to its full potential by promoting the fact that their venue was a Pokéstop and offering discounts to players that came to their establishment. Now, the gyms will also include Pokéstops so players can use special items and this also gives players in more rural areas the ability to experience the social Pokéstop experience more often.
There are some balancing changes being made as well so players can’t abuse the gym system by placing the same overpowered creature in all of the slots. Each gym is limited to one of each species and you battle each in an order based on how long they’ve been in the gym. There’s even a motivation system where you must replenish your Pokémon’s excitement level by returning to the gym and feeding it berries (there are bonuses for feeding the Pokémon of the other trainers as well). As their motivation gets lower, their effectiveness in combat decreases. If you take a gym, you earn a badge. The more you play at that particular gym, the more you’ll level up the badge and you’ll receive more rewards with a higher level badge.
An element of Pokémon Go that was lacking at launch was the availability of co-operative combat against strong creatures. That’s being remedied with a new Raid system. At unspecified intervals, an egg will appear with a countdown. When that countdown ends, an extremely powerful Pokémon will hatch and you’ll have to team up with other trainers (up to 20) to take it down. The Pokémon will revert to a more manageable state at the end of combat and, depending on how you contributed to the take-down, you’ll get a specific amount of attempts to capture the Pokémon with Premier balls. You’ll need a Raid Pass to participate which can be purchased or earned at a Pokéstop. Niantic also plans to introduce legendary Pokémon via an Exclusive Raid system in the future.
Despite the astronomical interest tapering off after a rough roll-out, Pokemon Go was a pop culture hit and a big boon for conversations around augmented reality. It dominated 2016, out-earning all mobile games including Candy Crush with 11.6% of the market share. These additions will improve the experience in a big way for those still playing and likely inspire people to return to the game.