Amid coronavirus pandemic, Niantic must change ‘Pokemon Go’


*UPDATE* Niantic has postponed Abra Community Day but raids for Altered Forme Giratina will appear to continue.


The launch of season 1 of the Go Battle League in “Pokemon Go” should be a cause for celebration. The feature, which comes out Friday, finally brings a competitive online player-vs.-player mode to the masses more than a year after head-to-head matches were introduced.

That should be one of the highlights of a busy week for Niantic, but that has been overshadowed by the coronavirus. The COVID-19 outbreak has put “Pokemon Go” events in peril. The San Francisco-based studio has already postponed the Safari Zone in St. Louis and it has canceled Raid Day events in Japan, South Korea and Italy. It’s obvious that the pandemic presents a short-term challenge to the viability of the game. Because “Pokemon Go” uses real-life locations and relies on trainers playing outside and socializing, the coronavirus poses an existential threat to the game itself. If players engage with “Pokemon Go,” they put themselves at risk of being infected or infecting others if they’re already sick.





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