Niantic, one of the companies behind Wizards Unite, announced a new tool last week called Niantic Wayfarer. This tool allows eligible players to nominate and review new points of interest (POIs) for all of Niantic’s games: Ingress, Pokémon GO, Wizards Unite, and any future games.
In Wizards Unite, these POIs become the Inns, Greenhouses, and Fortresses necessary for gameplay.
Today, the Pokémon GO site confirmed that some of its players will gain access to the new tool “in the coming weeks.” No exact timeframe or eligibility requirements have been announced yet. At minimum, eligible players will likely need to be Level 40, the highest level in the game.
History of POI Nominations
Wayfarer is the latest iteration of Niantic’s efforts to crowdsource a global POI database, built primarily by player submissions. Its predecessor, Operation Portal Recon, or OPR, is about three years old now.
Originally, points of interest, or POIs, could be nominated by any Ingress player and were reviewed by Niantic staff. As the player base grew, the company became unable to keep up and closed nominations for all players.
Since late 2016, Operation Portal Recon has shifted the task of reviewing these nominations onto eligible Ingress players. Players score POIs on a range of factors, such as historical value, safe pedestrian access, and more, and POIs are eventually accepted or rejected after review by enough players.
Over the past three years, access to nominating POIs for review has expanded to eligible Ingress players worldwide and eligible Pokémon GO players in certain countries.
A lack of reviewers, however, has slowed the process in some areas. Players have long speculated that countries like the USA, which already struggles to keep up with nominations from Ingress players alone, would not be able to handle nominations from Pokémon GO players without significant changes to the system or giving review access to Pokémon GO players.
Expanding Beyond Ingress
While Niantic Wayfarer does not offer major changes to the tool, it does have one crucial difference from OPR: it is IP-neutral. While OPR was steeped in Ingress lore and terminology, the new Niantic Wayfarer is much more plain and neutral, both in imagery and in language.
This change allows Niantic to expand the tool to Pokémon GO players without needing to develop new Pokémon-themed imagery or language, and it opens the door to eventual expansion to other games, such as Wizards Unite.
Of course, Wizards Unite players shouldn’t hold their breath. The addition of Pokémon GO players to Niantic’s POI review system is likely to take several months, if not years, and it may be a long road of hurdles and setbacks before the system is ready to handle the addition of another game and its community.
Buried under the buzz about POI review coming to Pokémon GO, Wayfarer also introduces a new way for players to manage their POI nominations. Players can now search and sort all of their nominations to check on their current status.
While it will likely be a long time still before Wizards Unite players can nominate and review POIs to create new Inns, Greenhouses, and Fortresses, the changes to Niantic’s system will likely mean an uptick in POI creation in many areas. Keep on the lookout for new POIs popping up in your local area in the months to come!