The COVID-19 pandemic – commonly known as the coronavirus outbreak – has already had a huge impact on the games industry. Certain games have been delayed, Switch stock is in short supply in some locations around the world, and most recently it's resulted in the cancellation of E3 2020.
Now, to add to this, Niantic will be making some temporary changes to its popular augmented reality mobile game Pokémon GO, which typically requires players to go outside and socialise with each other around points of interest.
While we’ve made these updates based on the current global health situation, we also encourage players to make decisions on where to go and what to do that are in the best interest of their health and the health of their communities
To ensure its playerbase remains in a healthy state, Niantic is prioritising updates to "GO features and experiences" that can be enjoyed in individual settings.
Habitats have been increased (more Pokémon appear in the wild), incense packs (which increase the rate of spawns) now last for an hour, there's a one-time purchase bundle of 30 Incense for 1 PokéCoin, and trainers can hatch eggs twice as fast in incubators. PokéStops will also drop Gifts more frequently and all of these changes will continue until "further notice".
Niantic has even gone to the extent of postponing its 'Abra Community Day' and various other real-world events that revolve around large gatherings. Fortunately, the game's Special Research story event featuring Genesect can still be completed individually.