Pokemon Go Exploration Bonuses: Free Raid Passes, Decreased Incense Effectiveness, and More

Monday, June 21st, 2021 4:56 pm

A number of bonuses are being introduced to the game, while others are going away.

In 2020, Niantic, the developer of Pokemon Go, introduced a number of changes to the free-to-play mobile game in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the pandemic forced many players to stay indoors for extended periods of time, these changes made the game easier (and more enjoyable) to play without leaving the house. Or, if players did venture outside, the changes made it easier for trainers to play the game without coming into close contact with other people.

As parts of the world begin to fully reopen, Niantic has announced a series of “Exploration Bonus” updates that are coming to Pokemon Go. These changes will be tested first with players in New Zealand and the U.S., and the changes won’t be added to the game until the end of July 2021 (sometime after Pokemon Go Fest on July 17 and 18).

To start, Niantic will add the following exploration bonuses to the game:

  • Players will be able to receive up to two free Raid Passes each day by spinning Gym Photo Discs (currently, players can only receive one free Raid Pass per day using this method).
  • Incense will become more effective while players are moving.
  • Players will be guaranteed to receive a Gift each time they spin a Photo Disc at a PokeStop, so long as they have room in their inventory to hold it (players can hold up to 20 Gifts at a time).
  • Players will receive 10 times the bonus experience points for spinning the Photo Disc at a PokeStop for the first time.

Again, these changes will be tested first with players in New Zealand and the U.S.. This test will run until the end of the Season of Discovery on September 1. In a news post, Niantic said, “Some of these bonuses may stay rolling into the following season, and new bonuses will become available as well.”

Niantic continued, “We’ll make these bonuses available in other countries and regions as it’s safe to do so. We understand that every place is different. Rest assured, we will be monitoring the situation and activating appropriate bonuses when and where available. Because of this, Trainers may experience different bonuses at different times. To see which exploration bonuses are available to you, check out your Today View.”

Next, Niantic announced it will remove some of the bonuses it introduced as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The removal of these bonuses will be conducted as a test first with players in the U.S. and New Zealand, and the test won’t begin (that is, the bonuses won’t be removed) until the end of July. Here are the bonuses that are being removed:

  • The game’s bonus Incense effectiveness will be removed when players are staying still in one spot. Incense will only have increased effectiveness as players are physically moving through the real world.
  • Buddy Pokemon will bring Gifts to players less frequently.
  • The distance bonus that allows players to interact with Gyms and PokeStops from farther away will be removed, and PokeStops and Gyms will go back to the standard distance requirement. Niantic said this distance requirement may be increased “during future events and as part of certain features.”

Niantic said, “We will remove or change [these bonuses] on a rolling basis in other countries and regions over time, and at the same time introduce new exploration bonuses.”

Finally, Niantic announced that some of the changes it introduced as part of its COVID-19 response will be kept in the game “for the foreseeable future.” These are:

  • Incense will continue to last for 60 minutes.
  • There will be no walking requirement to participate in the Go Battle League.
  • Players will be able to challenge any Trainer to a Gym Battle remotely using a QR code (players need to be at the Good Friends level to battle remotely).
  • Players will continue to be able to hold up to 20 Gifts in their inventory.
  • Players will continue to be able to open 30 Gifts per day (the previous limit was 20).
  • Players will continue to receive three times the normal amount of Stardust and experience points after catching their first Pokemon each day.

What do you think about these changes that are coming to Pokemon Go? Let us know on Twitter at @superparenthq.

Brandy Berthelson

Brandy Berthelson has been writing about video games and technology since 2006, with her work appearing on sites including AOL Games, Digital Spy, and Adweek. When she’s not gaming, Brandy enjoys crafting, baking, and traveling with her husband.

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