An upcoming update to iOS and Android AR game "Pokémon Go" will be "the biggest" yet, according to app developer Niantic, providing extra layers of engagement for players and extra revenue streams for the company.
With 2016's breakout app "Pokémon Go" approaching its July 6 anniversary, Niantic is preparing itself and its players for a major update to the way that key locations function within the game.
The augmented reality game uses mobile devices' cameras and screens to lay fictional Pokémon creatures over the real world.
Having been sorted into one of four teams, players are encouraged to not only find and collect Pokémon, but to assume ownership of real world locations that have been designated Pokémon Gyms.
A Gym can be taken over through victory over its defending Pokémon, and this new update, detailed in a June 19 blog post on pokemongolive.com, makes six pre-assigned defenders gradually lose motivation over time and as they suffer defeats at the hands of opposition players.
Motivation is linked to a Pokémon's CP, or Combat Power, and in this way "Pokémon Go" will encourage players to be persistent, while home team players can keep their defending Pokémon motivated by feeding them virtual berries, fruit which can be earned or bought from inside the app.
Players will also be able to earn badges that reflect their contribution to a Gym, and badges have levels that can be increased through battling, feeding berries to the Gym's Pokémon, and interacting with an AR Photo Disc to obtain items.
The overhaul means that Gyms will be taken offline for a period while updates are made; once they come back online, fans will know that a Raid Battle feature is just around the corner.
Up to 20 players will be able to team up in an effort to defeat a Gym's extremely powerful Raid Boss Pokémon, Niantic explains.
Participating in a Raid Battle uses up a Raid Pass, one of which is given free for visiting a Gym, while Premium Raid Passes can be obtained from the in-game shop.
Following an earlier Valentine's Day event, a March 2017 analysis from app store tracker SensorTower suggested that new features and warmer weather would translate into a bump in revenue for Niantic.