- Pokémon Go is finally getting Pokémon trading – a feature that was promised when it first came out in July 2016.
- It’s also getting a Friends list, so you can fight alongside or trade with your friends.
- It just highlights how now is the perfect time to come back to Pokémon Go: In the years since the initial fad, the game has gotten so much better, in ways large and small.
Niantic, the creator of Pokémon Go, announced on Monday that the two-year-old game will “soon” give players the ability to trade Pokémon.
This feature has been promised literally since the game launched: Way back in July 2016, Niantic CEO John Hanke told Business Insider that he considered trading a “core element” of the Pokémon franchise, and that it was in the works. Now, it’s finally coming. Niantic says it will start rolling out the feature “later this week.”
Trading is just one part of Pokémon Go’s new “Friends” feature, which makes it easier to connect with fellow players and battle together. If you’re in close physical proximity with a friend, Niantic says in a blog post, that’s when you can trade. Players can level up their friendships to reap special benefits, too, says Niantic. You can read the full details in the blog post.
Now, if this news has you thinking about coming back to Pokémon Go, let me tell you this, as a daily active player: You absolutely should.
The game still has a very active community, and even today only ranks behind the smash-hit “Fortnite” on the list of top-grossing iPhone apps in the Apple App Store – but there’s no denying that its popularity is far from the lofty heights it enjoyed in the first month or two after it first came out.
Since that launch, though, the game has steadily gotten better. About a year ago, Niantic released a sweeping new update that totally revamped how the game’s gym battle system works, making it easier and more fun for players of all skill levels and experience to take part.
Better yet, that same update introduced so-called Raid Battles, where up to 20 people can team up to take on a mega-powerful Pokémon, with the chance to catch the boss after you beat it. This system has allowed for legendary Pokémon like Articuno, Kyogre, Ho-oh, and even Mewtwo to make their long-awaited Pokémon Go debuts.
Most recently, Niantic introduced a new system called Field Research, which rewards players for completing simple tasks, like “catch 10 fire-type Pokémon,” or “visit 2 Pokéstops you’ve never been to before.” If you complete a research task every day for a week, you get bonus rewards, plus a shot at a legendary Pokémon.
But wait, there’s more: Niantic also introduced Special Research, which brings a story to the game for the first time ever. It’s not much of a story, but hey, baby steps. The first-ever Special Research had you completing tasks of increasing difficulty, finally giving players a shot at catching ultra-rare monster Mew at the climax.
All the while, Niantic has steadily made dozens of quality-of-life improvements to the game. The app is more reliable, the interface is cleaner, and a monthly Community Day gives players special rewards for getting out en masse for a few hours.
In other words, Pokémon Go has come a very long way, and is really delivering on the promises it made when it first launched. Finally adding trading and social features is the final piece of the puzzle – and one that really emphasizes that it’s the perfect time to jump back in and catch ’em all.