For anybody still playing “Pokemon Go” almost two years after its initial release, we have good news: developer Niantic is rolling out a feature to allow players to trade their Pokemon with one another.
It’s a big add, given that trading Pokemon is a key element of the series but has been absent from “Pokemon Go.” The change is rolling out starting this week, and sets up players with a new system that will allow people to become “friends” in the game, and start to earn rewards together. Niantic announced the news on its blog, along with all the ins and outs of how trading will work.
For those who never got in on the fad, “Pokemon Go” is all about catching and collecting virtual monsters called Pokemon. There are hundreds of the little guys, and the gimmick of the game is that you find them scattered around the real world. The game uses location data to log where you are while playing the game, and certain kinds of Pokemon only show up in certain places, like in parks or near bodies of water. Trading makes the collection part a little easier, since you can potentially get rare Pokemon you haven’t found yet from friends who have.
Adding people to your in-game friends list is the first step in trading Pokemon between players, but it’s far from the last — in fact, it doesn’t sound like Niantic is making trading particularly easy. You’ll have to put a lot of work into your friendships to unlock the option of trading your captured Pokemon. The game will include what Niantic is calling a “Friendship Level” for you and friends you’ve added in the game. You can raise it by sending each other gift items you get while playing the game, or in teaming up to do “raids” and “gym battles” in “Pokemon Go,” which are events where you can send your Pokemon to fight other Pokemon.
Like everything in “Pokemon Go,” it sounds like you’ll need to invest a lot of time into the Friends system in order to get what you want. Raising your friend status with specific other players will eventually allow you to trade the rarest Pokemon between each other, provided you’ve earned enough of the in-game currency called “Stardust” for playing. Trading for a Pokemon you haven’t caught on your own will be called a “Special Trade” and is going to be expensive, according to the blog post, and even more so if you and your friends trade the rarest “Legendary” Pokemon. Plus, you can only make one Special Trade per day.
Still, the idea that you can trade Pokemon at all is a big deal for remaining “Pokemon Go” players. The game might not be as big as it was in the summer of 2016 when it first came out and just about everyone was playing, but there are still people walking around and catching Pokemon on their phones. All the recent additions and improvements to the game, along with the friends and trading features, seem like they’ve finally elevated “Pokemon Go” from being an interesting, distracting fad to being a full-fledged game. Too bad players had to wait two years for it to happen.