The Game Columnist Sam Machkovech is reporting that 80 new Pokemon are coming to Go, but they may cost you
The task of catching ’em all in Pokemon Go will soon get a little tougher. The smartphone game’s developers at Niantic announced the game’s biggest expansion yet, coming “this week,” which will add a grand total of “more than 80” creatures introduced in the series’ Game Boy Color games Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver. When the update goes live, those characters will be seen wandering around your real world, as opposed to requiring a more obtuse method of discovery (i.e., hatching eggs).
But the bigger news may be the other tweaks coming to the game alongside so many ‘Mon—and how these all seem designed to open wallets to more of the game’s microtransactions.
THE FIRST CHANGE DUBBED NEW ENCOUNTER GAMEPLAY
The first change, dubbed “new encounter gameplay,” may make players expect more variety in how they actually capture Pokemon. However, that task will remain unchanged. Players will still have to swipe on the screen to “throw” one of their Pokeballs at a creature. “Don’t be surprised if [Pokemon] react in new ways as you’re trying to catch them,” Niantic tells players in its announcement of the major updates. Basically, this means characters will now dodge your Pokeball tosses in new ways—and it’s these dodges that can burn through your inventory (which can either be replenished slowly by walking around in the real world or quickly by spending cash).
Conveniently, Niantic is introducing a new type of “berry” item, called a Nanab Berry, which will essentially drug a Pokemon character and slow it down as you try to capture it. Another type of new berry, the Pinap Berry, will make a Pokemon cough up more of its species’ “candies,” which are needed for the game’s high-level evolution process. Niantic says these new berries will appear at the game’s GPS-powered Pokestop locations but did not confirm if they will be available for purchase with real-world money. (The game’s basic Razz Berry items still cannot be purchased with cash as of press time.) A much-needed menu tweak will make it quicker to pick berries and balls while trying to capture Pokemon, as well.
To complete that full circle of item interactions, the game’s evolution system will expand, with first-generation Pokemon characters requiring new, unnamed evolution items to evolve into the game’s new “Johto region” characters. Those items will be discoverable at Pokestops as well (Niantic didn’t clarify whether those items would appear in the game’s real-money store). Even if not, adding more types of items to the game means the free version’s default inventory limit of 250 items, which is already easy to fill to capacity, will only feel more limited. That inventory can be expanded with coins, which can either be earned slowly in the game’s “gyms” or paid for with real-world cash. (Each inventory upgrade costs about $2 and can be repeatedly purchased.)
The last update: hats! As in, you’ll be able to dress your in-game character with new apparel from head to toe and even pick from new character designs. Niantic didn’t clarify how many of these would be free and how many would cost money.
As a series overseer, Nintendo is only so involved with Pokemon Go‘s development. Still, its success and failure till matters to the big N, and the game’s update comes as Nintendo’s other major smartphone launches, Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Heroes, mature somewhat in the market. Super Mario Run‘s sales, all paid via a one-time $10 purchase, have plateaued (though that will surely change once the game launches on Android in March), while the weeks-old Fire Emblem Heroes, which relies heavily on microtransactions, continues to rank in the top-10 “grossing” charts on both iOS and Android in both the United States and Japan.