After nearly two years of subtle hints, outright questions, and flat-out begging from trainers, the new Pokémon GO update finally adds an iconic feature: the trading system. Combine that with the other fun new toys now available to all players and this could be what brings trainers flooding back to the game.
Niantic has been trying to freshen up the game for a while now. Festivals, new regions of Pokémon, and special holiday packs are all reasonably popular with established trainers, but this Pokémon GO update has huge appeal to casual players. Let’s break down what it introduces to the game:
Friends: You can now connect with real-world friends all over the world. Just enter their 12-digit trainer code and you’ll be able to see their level, current buddy, and recent catches in a special Friends feed. As you interact with a friend, your Friendship Level will increase and bring extra advantages: attack bonuses in raids, extra balls to catch raid bosses, and cheaper trades in general.
Gifts: Spinning Pokéstops now produce Gifts containing a random assortment of items. You can’t open them yourself, but when you send them to friends it’s like helping them hit a Pokéstop in your area from a distance. Friends can even see a postcard image of the Stop that produced the gift as they open it. The items in these gifts are a cut above regular Pokéstop fare, too: premium berries, Great Balls and above, and a special 7K egg only found in Gifts.
Trades:This is far and away the most anticipated part of the Pokémon GO update. You can trade any of your ‘Mon (except Mythical finds, which can still only be found through quests) with anyone on your friends list.
How do trades work?
There are a few restrictions to keep things reasonably fair. Trades have to be done in person, within at least 100m of your friend. Both parties have to be at least Level 10. You have to pay a little Stardust to make it work – usually 100, but the price varies based on your Friendship Level. The better a friend, the cheaper and better trades you can do.
Some trades are “Special”, meaning you can only do one a day. This includes Pokémon that are:
- Not already in your Pokédex (including new forms of existing Pokémon, like Party Hat Pikachu if you didn’t have him)
There is an important caveat: each Pokémon can only ever be traded once. That’s kind of a bummer if you’re hoping to do triangle trades, but shouldn’t really affect the game too much. There are ways around it. You can get the group together and all trade the desired Pokémon to the final recipient with some Pidgeys or something to round out the deal, for example.
When trading a Pokémon, their moves, gender, and size will stay the same. However, CP, HP, IV, and level can change, especially if one trainer is lower level. If you can’t have a Pokémon powered to the level you receive in a trade it will max out at what you can have. Your new stats are affected by your Friendship Level, so trading with good friends gets you better stats.
Overall, the Pokémon GO update puts a lot of effort into keeping trades fair and emphasizing the social aspect of the game. Community is a big theme for Niantic; every new feature they’ve added in recent history has revolved around encouraging players to work together and interact in the real world. This is another step in that direction.
Trading even offers a resolution to one of the most frustrating aspects of the game. Some trainers have time or location restrictions that make it hard to find a group to take down Legendary raid bosses. Regional Pokémon were also out of the reach of many players, who had to hope for regions to shift at some point. Now, they can make friends with other trainers and trade to fill in the gaps in their Pokédex.
In the few days it’s taken to roll out the new features, Pokémon GO has already seen a rise in players returning to the game after a long absence. It remains to be seen whether this is enough to keep those players in the long run. With almost everything players have been asking for (still mad about the tracking system), it seems like Niantic has hit on the right kind of motivation to lengthen the game’s lifespan.
What do think of the Pokémon GO update? Have you made your first trade yet? Share your thoughts with us!
Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology being published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.
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