Niantic Announces Changes to In-Game Bonuses

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Article by Brian Tien
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As we finally begin to move past the iron grip of Covid-19, it's finally time to prepare for what this will entail for Pokemon Go. We've got the end of some existing bonuses along-side the permanence of others, and a set of new bonuses that are going to make their way to Pokemon Go in the future. In order to split this up in a way that is a bit easier to take as a whole, we're going to look at the coming updates as "The Good" and "The Bad", so let's jump into it!

The Good

Starting at the end of July, the following bonuses are coming to The United States and New Zealand for testing:

  • Players will be able to obtain 2 free raid passes per day by spinning gyms
  • Pokestops will always give gifts if the player doesn't already have the max number
  • 10x XP for spinning a Pokestop for the first time

While nice, these bonuses will be set to end on September 1. Some may stay with us moving forward, and we're apparently going to be able to enjoy even more bonuses than this at that point, but at least one or two of these bonuses will come to an end at that point.

The following existing bonuses are also set to stay moving forward:

  • Incense will continue to last for 60 minutes
  • The walking requirement for Go Battle League is going to be done away with permanently! It's great that such an arbitrary requirement for one of the game's main modes of play is not going to return!
  • Players will be able to remotely challenge each other to trainer battles via QR code, or at Good Friends level.
  • Players will still be able to open 30 gifts per day
  • The first catch of the day will continue to give 3x the "normal" XP and Stardust (did anyone else forget that this was a thing?)

The Bad

Naturally, it can't all be good news. Niantic has at least softened the blow a bit, but this announcement does include some issues as well.

  • The effectiveness of incense is being substantially lowered when the player isn't moving, returning to its old rate of spawning Pokemon
  • Buddy Pokemon will be less likely to bring the player gifts
  • Here's what is arguably the worst part of this update: Pokestop and Gym interaction distance is bring returned to normal. This may return in future events, though a slight increase in range along these lines hardly feels like an event-worthy bonus.

While the losses here aren't too bad, the interaction distance in particular feels like an arbitrary loss of something that was a genuine quality of life update that just felt natural to many players. Hopefully Niantic will see the issues entailed with this update in the future, and will make the "increased" range into the new normal range.

Full Announcement

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Full Text


One of the delights of Pokémon GO is finding Pokémon in the real world—walking around, discovering new places, meeting up with groups of friends to raid or battle together. At their core, all of Niantic’s games are built around the ideas of exploration, exercise, and playing with friends.

As we said last month, how we all play changed a lot in the past 15 months. With the onset of the global pandemic, we realized that we had to change the model for all of our games. We could no longer take going outside and meeting people for granted.

We learned a lot. Thank you for coming along with us as we continue to navigate through this together.

Today, as some parts of the world are moving toward recovery, we’re announcing:

  • New exploration bonuses that make it more rewarding to play outside are coming over the next several months, including bonuses for spinning stops, playing at in-person raids, and getting in those steps.
  • Bonuses introduced last year that we plan to remove or change, tested first in the U.S. and New Zealand, followed by other countries and regions based on local conditions.
  • Bonuses introduced last year that we are planning on keeping, including first catch of the day bonuses, GO Battle League and Trainer Battle requirements, and more.

We’ll only remove temporary bonuses introduced last year after Pokémon GO Fest 2021, starting in the United States and New Zealand. We wanted to give you an advance heads up of what’s coming and our thinking behind it, as we said last November.

We’re committed to doing this in a staggered way, when it makes sense for each place in the world, to help people play safely. As we return to the outside world again, these changes are aimed at restoring the focus of Pokémon GO on movement and exploration in the real world. These changes will be introduced slowly and carefully to make it more exciting to explore the world around you.

New exploration bonuses for playing together in the real world

Starting at the end of July, the following exploration bonuses will roll out to Trainers for testing first in the U.S. and New Zealand. Trainers will:

  • Receive up to two free Raid Passes per day from spinning Gym Photo Discs.
  • Benefit from increased Incense effectiveness while moving.
  • Be guaranteed gifts when spinning PokéStops so long as they have not reached their maximum gift inventory.
  • Receive 10x bonus XP from spinning a PokéStop for the first time.

These bonuses will end when the Season of Discovery wraps up September 1, 2021. Some of these bonuses may stay rolling into the following season, and new bonuses will become available as well.

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.

Bonuses introduced last year that we plan to remove or change

Over the next few months, we’re planning to remove or change some of the bonuses introduced last year. We will not make these changes until after Pokémon GO Fest in July, and we will remove them first as a test in the U.S. and New Zealand starting at the end of July. We will remove or change them on a rolling basis in other countries and regions over time, and at the same time introduce new exploration bonuses.

  • Over the past year, Incense effectiveness was increased to attract Pokémon to you more frequently, even if you weren't able to leave home. After the change, this effectiveness will be set at the standard level when you’re stationary and increased effectiveness will kick in when you are moving.
  • Previously, your Buddy Pokémon brought you more Gifts each day, up to five gifts at once and up to three times a day. This was because we knew Trainers were running low on supplies like Poké Balls and berries to help them catch Pokémon. As we move to encouraging Trainers to play outside more, they can continue to receive supplies from spinning PokéStops. After the change, the frequency of these gifts from Buddy Pokémon will be reduced.
  • Previously, PokéStop and Gym interaction distances were increased, to enable people to engage from further away. After this change the distance will revert back to the standard distance, when it makes sense in different places, though may be increased during future events and as part of certain features.

Remote Raids have become an important part of the game this past year and we’re going to continue evolving them. Our intention is to find the right balance between remote play and in-person play, so stay tuned for more details in the coming months. Many of these in-person raid changes will be to prepare for the eventual return of EX Raids.

Bonuses introduced last year that we are planning on keeping

Some of the changes that were introduced in the past year resonated well with our Trainers and will provide continued value as countries and regions begin to open back up. These changes will remain as standard parts of the game for the foreseeable future, some of which were previously announced:

  • Incense duration will remain at 60 minutes.
  • No walking requirement for GO Battle League.
  • You can challenge any Trainer remotely with a QR Code, and the requirement to battle with friends remotely has been lowered to Good Friends.
  • The maximum number of Gifts you can carry in your Item Bag at a time will remain at 20.
  • Trainers will be able to open up to 30 Gifts per day, up from the previous 20.
  • You will continue to receive three times the Stardust and XP for your first Pokémon catch of the day.

Please check out for further updates.

Thank you again. The path ahead will have some twists and turns, but we are committed to being clear about how and why Pokémon GO will evolve in the future.

—The Pokémon GO team

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About the Author(s)

Gamepress writer with a focus on theorycrafting and gameplay optimization with a background in business management and freelance writing.  A bit of a hermit, but also an outdoors enthusiast who loves cycling and hiking. Long-time Gamepress fan who is very proud to be a part of the team.