Pokemon GO pandemic retreat: Could this be bad?

A set of updates are coming to Pokemon GO that'll change the way the game is played for some trainers. Niantic changed Pokemon GO in a major way when adjusting for COVID-19 and the global pandemic therein – now they'll be flipping a few switches back to their original position. The pandemic isn't really completely over – so what's the big deal?

What'll change back

Pokemon GO will roll back a few changes made to the game back in 2020. The extended distances you can be from a Pokemon Gym or Pokestop will revert back to what they were pre-pandemic. Buddy retrieval of gifts will be reduced in frequency, as will the efficacy of Incense while the trainer stays stationary – walking helps!*

What's increasing (for a limited time)

*Trainers will now see increased efficacy for Incense while they remain moving – walking all the time makes Pokemon appear more often. The first Pokestop a trainer spins each day will deliver 10x bonus XP.

There'll be "guaranteed gifts" for Pokestop spins, so long as the trainer has space for more gift inventory. Trainers will be able to get up to two free Raid Passes from Gym Photo Disc spins, per day.

NOTE: These increased bonuses will last until the end of the "Season of Discovery." That'll end on September 1, 2021. Niantic suggested that some bonuses may change at that point, and they may decide to keep some bonuses beyond that point in time.

Pandemic bonuses that wont change

There'll still be no walking requirement for GO Battle Leage. Incense duration will remain at 60 minutes each (hopefully this will last forever). Gifts per day will remain at 30, and the first Pokemon catch of the day will still deliver 3x XP and Stardust.

Remote battle with friends will be set at Good Friends – down from the higher levels of the past. Niantic appears to be continuing to lower levels for remote gameplay – which is good! We still want to keep Pokemon GO real-world based, complete with GPS and such – but lets keep it all accessible!

Where and when

The newest changes outlined above will take hold in the United States and New Zealand first. The changes will be rolled out starting AFTER Pokemon GO Fest 2021, taking place in July of 2021.

NOTE: Niantic hasn't called these features "pandemic bonuses" – we're just calling them that because they first appeared during global lockdowns in the year 2020.