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Pokémon GO Dev Reboots Original AR Mobile Game Ingress

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When Pokémon GO launched two years ago, it drove a lot of newcomers to the concept of Augmented Reality. Developer Niantic had built upon their AR technology with an earlier game, called Ingress.

This week Niantic launched a rebooted version of Ingress, called Ingress Prime. Ingress Prime is available now as a free download on iOS and Android.

“Ingress Prime is built on Niantic’s Real World Platform and serves as a key driver for innovation around gameplay and technologies for all Niantic products,” said John Hanke, founder and CEO of Niantic. “Since its original release in November 2012, Ingress and its passionate and diverse user community have been an inspiration for the team to create new and innovative ways for players to work together both in-game and in the real world.”

Players embody agents of two different factions: the Enlightened and the Resistance, within the sci-fi near future world of Ingress. The story will evolve and change depending on how the agents interact and which side can control various landmarks around the world.

Anomaly events are similar to Pokémon GO’s Community Days, bringing people together for a weekend of mobile gaming. Niantic plans to host 12 Primary Anomaly events around the world, as well as over 100 smaller community-drive events. You can find out the wheres and whens of the events on the Ingress website.

With the launch of Ingress Prime, Niantic is also expanding the story and setting of their sci-fi universe. The Ingress Anime is an new CG-animated series coming in 2019 on Netflix. It’s described as a sci-fi adventure thriller featuring Ingress Agents and gameplay.

Pokémon GO will be celebrating Ingress Prime’s release with shiny green Cubones and blue Ponytas, as well as free in-game avatar gifts. Ingress Prime is available now on iOS and Android mobile devices.

pokemon go fest

Pokémon GO Fest Returns This Summer

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Niantic has announced the Pokémon GO Summer Tour 2018, which includes the return of Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago, Illinois on July 14-15.

Pokémon GO Fest 2018: A Walk in the Park will feature activities for Pokémon GO players of all ages. It takes place within a 1.8 mile stretch in Lincoln Park in Chicago. Tickets will go on sale this Friday, May 11. Single-day passes will cost $20, and nearby hotels will offer discount rates. Event details have not yet been announced.

Seeing Niantic return to a large-scale physical meet-up is interesting. Last year’s Pokémon GO Fest, which also celebrated the one-year anniversary of the hit mobile game, was an unmitigated disaster. The network was down for much of the event, preventing most ticket holders from actually playing the game. Niantic would later issue mass refunds to everyone who attended.

The Summer Tour also includes Safari zones for Europe and Asia. These are similar to Pokémon GO Fest but they are non-ticketed and open to everyone at public parks. The first takes place in Dortmund, Germany June 30 and July 1.

In addition to these events, Pokémon GO will continue to feature monthly Community Days. Community Days last only a few hours and feature a specific Pokémon with some added bonuses. The next Community Day is on May 19, when trainers will find a lot more Charmanders in the wild.

Pokémon GO launched on mobile devices in Summer 2016, becoming a global phenomenon and popularizing the AR genre. Its popularity has noticeably died down, though Niantic continues to support the game with frequent events and updates.

Pokémon GO Fest 2018 takes place in Chicago on July 14-15. Tickets will be available this Friday.

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Pokémon GO Details Changes to Raid Battle System

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A cooperative Raid Battle system was added to Pokémon GO earlier this year. Raids let players join together to defeat a single powerful Pokémon at a Gym location. This week Niantic announced several big changes coming to both standard Raid Battles as well as the special invite-only EX Raids with Legendary Pokémon.

“We want Trainers to walk away from Raid Battles feeling like they’ve earned some amazing rewards, even if the Raid Boss flees,” states the update post. “To help make this more of a reality, we’ve made adjustments to the quality of items Trainers receive after defeating a Raid Boss. The addition of Stardust rewards for participating in a Raid Battle will help Trainers continue to power up the Pokémon they need to take on even more powerful Raid Bosses.”

Standard Raid Battles are getting the following changes:

  • Trainers will now receive Golden Razz Berries for completing Raid Battles.
  • The numbers of Potions and Revives awarded to Trainers for completing a Raid Battle will decrease slightly, but the quality of Potions will increase.
  • The likelihood of receiving Fast and Charged Technical Machines for completing a Tier 3 or higher Raid Battle has increased.
  • Trainers will now receive Stardust for participating in a Raid Battle, whether they win or lose.
  • Magikarp will make a triumphant return to Tier 1 Raid Battles.

Additionally Niantic received a hefty amount of feedback to the oft-frustrating EX Raid Battles, which was the only way to gain super rare and powerful Legendary Pokémon.

The following changes are being added to EX Raid Battles:

  • EX Raid Battles will take place most commonly at Gyms found in parks and sponsored locations.
  • Trainers with a high-level Gym Badge are more likely to be invited to EX Raid Battles taking place at that Gym.
  • Trainers who have completed a larger number of Raid Battles are more likely to be invited to EX Raid Battles.
  • EX Raid Battle start times now take into account popular Raid Battle times at that Gym.
  • Trainers invited to EX Raid Battles will receive an in-game notification if the EX Raid Battle is canceled.
  • Trainers will receive Stardust and Premium Raid Passes when an EX Raid Battle is canceled.

With these changes the EX Raid Battle system will officially move out of beta (or ‘field test’) and into official launch.

Also happening this week is the Pokémon GO Global Catch Challenge. Every Pokémon you catch this week will contribute toward the challenge, with overall goals in the millions and billions. The rewards are listed below:

  • Bronze Tier (500 million Pokémon caught): All Trainers will earn double XP, Lure Modules will last six hours, and more Pokémon will appear all over the world.
  • Silver Tier (1.5 billion Pokémon caught): In addition to the Bronze Tier rewards, all Trainers will earn double Stardust, and even more Pokémon will appear.
  • Gold Tier (3 billion Pokémon caught): In addition to the Bronze and Silver Tier rewards, Farfetch’d will appear all around the world for 48 hours and Kangaskhan will appear in East Asia for 48 hours!

The Pokémon GO Global Catch Challenge will conclude on November 26.

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Disastrous Pokémon GO Fest Results in Mass Refunds

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When Pokémon GO first launched in July 2016, it instantly became a cultural phenomenon. Its unprecedented mainstream popularity lead to widespread network issues that lasted for weeks.

Unfortunately all reports from last Saturday’s Pokémon GO Fest on July 22 tell a similar story. While it was meant to be a fun one-year celebration gathering, it instead brought back the same network issues that plagued the game at launch.

Connection issues hampered excited players throughout the day, with most event-goers unable to do the one thing they bought a ticket for. Amenities and organization were also subpar, with few charging stations and very long lines to get in (and out of) Grant Park.

Pokémon GO Fest ended up being such a disaster that Niantic announced mass refunds for everyone who attended ($20 ticket price). They’re also offering $100 worth of PokeCoins. Of course many people paid much more than that with airfare, hotel stay, and the typical overpriced event food.

There’s a video now circulating on YouTube from the event that features very disgruntled event-goers, and Niantic CEO John Hanke being booed on stage.

Niantic released an official statement:

Today at Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago, technical issues created problems for a large number of players attending the event. From everyone at Niantic, we apologize to all of the Trainers who came out to Pokémon GO Fest today. Although we were able to solve many of the technical issues, we were not able to offer every attendee a great experience. We appreciate the patience of all the Trainers who joined us in Chicago this weekend. We will strive to make sure our experiences are of the highest quality going forward.

In addition to the refund and PokeCoins, all attendees will have the Legendary Pokémon Lugia added to their account. Lugia was meant to be the big reward for completing the challenges, but connectivity problems lead to Niantic simply releasing it. Apparently Team Mystic came out ahead on the few Pokémon captures that could be earned, unlocking Articuno as the other Legendary Pokémon.

Given how well Niantic has supported Pokémon GO and stabilized the servers following its rough launch, it’s exceedingly disappointing to see a large-scale event like this crash and burn. Niantic has had a year to iron out the kinks. You would think they’d be able to better prepare for an actual scheduled, ticketed event.