What new features are coming to Pokémon Go in 2017? Gen 2, new Gym system, Player vs. Player, and perhaps trading and more!

Updated May 22, 2017: Pokémon Go is cracking down on bots with new waves of "shadowbans". Details below.

Pokémon Go launched in the summer of 2016 and has been updated regularly ever since. From Buddies to bonus streaks, we've been getting major new features roughly every three months and a lot of smaller updates and tweaks in between. So, what does 2017 hold for Pokémon Go? Gen 2 launched in the first quarter, so that leaves the new Gym system, PvP, and maybe even trading for the rest of the year.

Here are all the latest Pokémon Go updates!

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May 22, 2017: Pokémon Go cracks down on cheating, begins to "shadowban" bot accounts

Bots are programs that fake their way around the Pokémon Go universe, scanning and collecting. They power mapping sites and build up accounts that get sold on the black market. Not only do they flood Pokémon Go's servers with spurious calls, they create an unlevel playing field for real humans in the game. And now, it looks like Pokémon Go is fighting back.

From The Silph Road:

Midday Saturday EST, reports started emerging that something was amiss in botting communities. Some accounts suddenly stopped finding Pokemon at certain known spawnpoints. It turned out that they were incapable of seeing anything more than very common species.

These bot accounts weren't being "banned" outright, but they were apparently 'flagged' as illicit.

Huge numbers of bot accounts were being flagged, though many were still operating normally. It was initially suspected that accounts were flagged due to using deprecated API calls to access server resources from Niantic's private API, which may have been true, but it turned out not to be the only reason illicit accounts were flagged.

As of this moment, it is still unclear what behavior is tipping off Niantic that an account is not legitimate. We're calling this flag a 'shadowban.'

The entire write-up is fascinating so, whether you're just frustrated your favorite map has gone hinky, or you want to see bots burn, give it a read.

And if you think you've been shadowbanned in error, check out The Silph Road Wiki for steps you can take to try and get the shadowban reversed.

Update: Here's the text of the letter Niantic is sending out to people who contact support about the shadowban. via The Silph Road:

We're committed to maintaining the state of Pokémon GO and our community of Trainers. People who violate the Pokémon GO Terms of Service (including by using third party software and other cheats) may have their gameplay affected and may not be able to see all the Pokémon around them. While we cannot discuss the systems implemented, we can confirm that we are constantly refining new ways to ensure the integrity of the game in order to keep it fun and fair for all Trainers.

As long as you're abiding by the Pokémon GO Terms of Service and the Pokémon GO Trainer guidelines, there should not be any reason for concern.

May 21, 2017: 100 Poké Coins are currently discounted in the Poké Stop in many countries outside the U.S.

100 Poké Coins are showing for $0.99 (CND) in the Poké Shop right now. (That's typically what they cost in USD). None of the other Poké Coin lots are similarly discounted. Outside the U.S., other countries are also reporting discounted rates up to 40%. Weird, but if you need extra Poké Coin right now, check your local Shop and see if you can save some real coin.

Update: Niantic has addressed on the change on Reddit:

Without going into too many details, there are a variety of pricing tiers available to developers like us in the App Store. We recently adopted a new price tier for our 100 PokéCoin bundle in an attempt to make the bundle more reasonable for Trainers in several countries around the world. Unfortunately, this pricing option is only available for this purchase level, so you'll notice that, in some circumstances, the 100 PokéCoin bundle is less expensive than larger PokéCoin bundles. We've also noticed that some players are looking to circumvent their normal currency to purchase PokéCoins at discounted prices. We're closely monitoring these cases and highly discourage this behavior.

May 13, 2017: Incubators and Incense moved to the top of the Poké Shop

Coinciding with the release of Pokémon Go version 0.63.1 for Android and 1.33.1 for iOS devices, the Poké Shop has had its virtual shelves re-ordered.

Now, the single three-use Incubator and the single and 8-pack of Lures are on the top shelf, sitting above the packs of 20, 100, and 200 Poké Balls that previously held the spot.

The Poké Shop layout is controlled server-side, so Pokémon Go can rearrange it at any time. It's how they do sales, for example, during special events.

This change is relatively minor, but will likely prove a time-saver for those who buy Incubators the most.

May 12, 2017: Pokémon Go changed the drop rates for PokéStop items on May 9. Here's your new normal.

When you spin a PokéStop in Pokémon Go you get three or more items, including balls, potions, revives, eggs, and evolution items. Different items have different "drop rates" — chances for you to get them — from the extremely common Poké Ball and Potion to the extremely rare Max Revive or Evolution Item.

On May 9, shortly after the Pokémon Go grass-type event ended, Pokémon Go seems to have made a change to those rates, decreasing the odds of getting some items and increasing the odds of getting others.

From The Silph Road:

  • Balls drop rates took a cut, moving from about 65% of drops to 60%. The relative distribution of Pokeball / Greatball / Ultraball remained unchanged (72%, 21%, 7% respectively).
  • Potions held steady at around 15%, but interestingly, their distribution changed significantly. Regular potions cratered from 60% to 45%, while super potions got a big boost from 23% to 32%. Hyper and max potions saw modest gains, moving to 15 and 8% respectively.
  • Berries gained a bit, from around 14% to 16%. The distribution remained mostly the same with 50% Razz, though, Pinaps seem to have gained slightly from 25% to 27%, while Nanabs dropped from 25% to 23%.

Revives held steady, as did evolution items. Hit the link above for precise drop rates for all items and the rest of the details.

May 10, 2017: Hints of Pokémon Go cracking down on Blissey stacking and mechanics for remote defense discovered in latest app update code

With the availability of Pokémon Go version 0.63.1 for Android, the code has once again been mined for hints of what's to come. This time, that includes a system to limit the number of same-type Pokémon in a Gym, and a method to bolster defenders on a Gym, even from afar.

From The Silph Road:

A new Gym attribute has appeared: MAXSAMEPOKEMONATFORT which strongly hints that soon, Pokemon of the same species will be prevented from being deployed at gyms where their co-species defenders already sit.

This would be great news for the diversity of high-level gyms and is a very promising hint at Niantic's new focus on the gym scene. Hype!

It's become common practice in some areas for some players to raid Gyms and fill them with Blissey and/or Snorlax top-to-bottom. Since those Pokémon are significantly harder to attack than any others, it makes taking the Gym back down tougher and less appealing.

So, the hope is this helps with that.

There are also new strings that suggest you might be able to earn XP if your Pokémon successfully defends a Gym, that you might be able to see your Pokémon on Gyms from afar, and that you may be able to remotely feed your Pokémon a berry to fortify it during a "raid" or attack.

But it is our guess that feeding berries may be a real-time, socket-based attempt to rejuvenate and strengthen your defender remotely as they are attacked by opponents at their gym. This mechanic is utilized in Ingress to more actively defend critical portals from afar. Many find the push notifications about on-going attacks to be one of the most fast-paced elements of the competitive scene.

All of this will likely be part of the new Gym system, which Pokémon Go has suggested will be the next major quarterly update.

May 9, 2017: Pokémon Go app being updated for Brazilian Portuguese and smarter medal browsing

Pokémon Go is being updated. As usual, that means the Android version will start appearing almost immediately and the iOS version, a couple or a few days from now. From Pokémon Go Live:

Pokémon GO is in the process of being updated to version 0.63.1 for Android and 1.33.1 for iOS devices. Below are some release notes and comments from our development team.

  • Added Brazilian Portuguese language support.
  • Tapping on a medal will now show your progress toward the next medal tier.

I'll update if and when the usual suspects deep dive the app for hints at what''s coming next.

May 7, 2017: Pokémon Go now soft-banning Pokémon 'snipers'

It looks like Pokémon Go has worked out the kinks and is now once again soft-banning Pokémon "snipers".

Pokémon sniping is a form of "spoofing" (faking GPS location) where people cheat at the game by using third-party hacks to "teleport" to high stat (IV) Pokémon, "click" on them to start the catch mechanism, teleport back to their real location, and then catch it.

Previously, that would only register their real location and avoid any "soft bans", or temporary in-game lockouts applied to accounts that moved around faster than normal travel methods would allow.

The change, apparently, involves Pokémon Go recording both the encounter and catch location and comparing the two, to look for abnormal distances. If it finds a disparity, it will issue the soft ban.

This won't stop spoofers from attacking or holding Gyms, nor will it take away all the 100%, maxed out, Blissey, Snorlax, Dragonite, and Tyranitar they already have. But it will hopefully prevent them from getting more.

And, hopefully, Pokémon Go can use the sniper data to hard ban obvious spoofers permanently.

May 6, 2017: PokéStop and Pokémon catch glitch fixed — possibly the result of a crackdown on Pokémon snipers

During the evening of May 5, 2017, EDT, many players experienced problems when spinning PokéStops or trying to catch Pokémon. Pokémon Go support (Niantic support) has since issued the following statement on Reddit:

We have received several reports over the last few hours from Trainers claiming they've experienced issues trying to collect items from PokéStops or catch Pokémon this evening. After investigating further, we've implemented some changes that should further prevent this from occurring, and we believe that this issue has been fixed. We will continue to monitor the information available to us and react accordingly should any additional issues arise. Thanks again for remaining patient and bringing these issues to our attention both here on Reddit and over on our other social media channels.

The problems began being reported shortly after the Pokémon Go grass-type event started.

There's a theory being floated on Reddit, with some credibility being afforded to it, that the errors were caused by Pokémon Go making changes to crack down on Pokémon snipers.

Unfortunately, it also seems to have caused a lot of false positives for non-sniping players due to GPS drift or people playing in cars, buses, etc.

It seems like the fix also reverted the crackdown but, hopefully, Pokémon Go figures out a way to have the soft ban work and prevent false positives too.

It would go a long way to preventing spoof accounts from having super high CP Dragonite and Tyranitar to stack in Gyms.

May 3, 2017: Pokémon Go promo codes appear — on Android only

Pokémon Go has added a promo code redemption area to the Shop page on the Android version of the game, and added a support page explaining how the process works.

From Pokémon Go:

Pokémon GO occasionally offers promotional codes through our partnerships and special events. Promo codes can be used to redeem items such as Poké Balls, Lure Modules, Lucky Eggs, and more.

This has led to some speculation that promo codes will also be used for things like Legendary and Mythical Pokémon and related events.

Note: Promo code redemption is currently only available on Android devices.

No word yet on when or if promo code redemption will be made available on the iPhone and iPad version of the game. Apple has stricter policies for iOS apps on the App Store.

According to Reddit, it's something Pokémon Go's developer, Niantic, has had to work around before.

Apple has strict rules about/against Promo Codes. Presumably to prevent app devs to use them to circumvent apple's 30%(?) tax on all IAPs. When Niantic released Ingress on android it had passcode redemption on it from day one. A year later when Ingress launched on iOS they couldn't add that passcode feature because of apple's restrictions. Months later after trying to get apple to approve the passcode redemption feature they managed to get apple to allow them to add passcode redemption outside the app on their [website/intel map]. It's a safe bet that this negotiation process has already started with Apple for PoGo and they'll get a solution for iOS users before anything important is used with Promo Codes.

In other words, Apple doesn't want developers moving transactions outside the App Store by charging customers directly for digital goods and then giving them a promo code to redeem them in-app. In other words, if you gave Niantic $20 and they give you a code for a Master Ball, Apple wouldn't get its cut and, for less reputable developers, wouldn't be able to help if you got ripped off.

Given the nature of Pokémon Go's digital goods, and the popularity of the game, hopefully something can be worked out so iPhone and iPad players can enjoy the same convenience as those gaming on Android.

Read: What to expect from promo codes in Pokémon Go

April 26, 2017: John Hanke, CEO of Pokémon Go developer, Niantic, talks what's coming next

The CEO of Niantic, the developer behind Pokémon Go, recently spoke at a high school and a couple of Reddit members were kind enough to share what he said.

From The Silph Road's summary:

  • Said he can't give any secret information on Pokemon GO (but proceeded to confirm a few things)
  • "We are working on improving gym battles."
  • Will probably be some way to release legendary Pokemon "in the not so distant future"
  • The other feature that we know people want and that we will be working on and send out "pretty soon" is letting you battle one on one with other people. (woot!)
  • Acknowledged that some Pokemon haven't appeared in-game yet due to their "special moves." He didn't name Delibird and Smeargle outright, but MTC offered their names and Hanke asked if they were the ones with special moves. MTC confirmed, and Hanke concurred.

Like Ditto in Gen 1, Delibird and Smeargle in Gen 2 have unique moves, called Present and Sketch, that need to be fitted into Pokémon Go. So, much as Ditto arrived last fall, we should see Delibird and Smeargle pop into the game sometime this spring or summer.

April 24, 2016: Pokémon Go daily catch limits lowered to 500

This won't affect most players, but it looks like Pokémon Go has lowered the maximum amount of Pokémon you can catch on any given day from 1000 down to 500.

While it may seem impossible for legit players to catch 500, let alone 1000 Pokémon in a day, a few people on Reddit who live in large urban areas with clusters of PokéStops that are consistently lured, and who use Pokémon Go Plus to speed up catching, claim to be hitting it. Specifically, some parts of Hong Kong and Copenhagen.

If you hit 500, you can still spin PokéStops, apparently, and walk for buddy candy, but all Pokémon you try to catch will flee after you throw the first ball of any type at them.

The change is suspected to be aimed at "botters" who use scripts and GPS spoofing to cheat at the game.

April 20, 2017: Pokémon Go stats now vary by trainer level

Following the end of the spring event, Pokémon Go has made a major server side change to the way Pokémon spawn in the wild.

Now, IV — attack, defense, and stamina — and other stats like height and weight all vary by trainer level, up to level 30 (and are the same from levels 30-40.)

CP has always worked like that in Pokémon Go, but it's the first time the other stats have become level-dependant as well.

It's being theorized the change was made to help combat "spoofers", or those who use bots and GPS cheats to catch rare, high-IV Pokémon from a computer rather than out in the real world the way nature and Niantic intended.

So, if you're out with friends, a Dragonite spawns, and all its stats are completely different for all of you, don't worry. That's now the new normal.

April 7, 2017: Pokémon Go updated to 1.31.0

On April 7, 2017, Pokémon Go for iOS was updated to version 1.31.0. The update includes

  • Traditional Chinese language support.
  • New Pokémon collection screen scroll bar.
  • Various bug fixes.
  • Minor text fixes.

Not mentioned but thankfully included, only 4 months after the New Year's version went live:

  • New loading screen featuring Steelix.

Steelix is the Gen 2 Pokémon that evolves from Onix with the Metal Coat item.

Download the Pokémon Go update from the App Store

Future Pokémon Go updates

In addition to what's already been released, there's a whole slew of updates planned for the rest of the year. Luckily, much of it has been substantiated by Niantic and Niantic employees in talks or interviews, so we have a rough idea what to expect.

Q2 2017: New Gym system?

From Niantic, developer of Pokémon Go:

We continue to be inspired by the passion of the 65+ million people from around the world playing Pokémon GO each month. We're still at the beginning of the journey and there's a lot more to come. With spring arriving in the northern hemisphere, players can look forward to all new cooperative social gameplay experiences in Pokémon GO that will give Trainers new and exciting reasons to get back into the sunshine.

Cooperative and social gameplay sounds like it'll involve teams and require some organization!

Some other hints were posted on The Silph Road:

  • "gym_removal_notification_toast" "{0} has fought hard and returned!" "{0} は "pokemon_hungry_notification_toast" "{0} is hungry!" "{0} はお腹が空いている"
  • "pokemon_lost_notification_toast" "{0} lost a battle!" "{0} は負けてしまった"
  • "pokemon_won_notification_toast" "{0} defended the Gym!" "{0} はジムを守った!"
  • "nearby_raid_notification_toast" "Nearby raid starting soon!" "近くのジムでバ
  • "gym_removal_notification_toast|1" "{0} is back after a hard battle!" "{0} が
  • "gym_removal_notification_toast|2" "{0} was forced off the Gym!" "{0} がジムか
  • "pokemon_hungry_notification_toast|1" "{0} needs a pick-me-up!" "{0} のお腹が
  • "pokemon_hungry_notification_toast|2" "{0} wants a berry!" "{0} はきのみを欲
  • "pokemon_lost_notification_toast|1" "{0} was defeated in battle!" "{0} は負けて
  • "pokemon_lost_notification_toast|2" "{0} fainted at the Gym!" "{0} はひんしになっ
  • "pokemon_won_notification_toast|1" "{0} was victorious in battle!" "{0} はバトル
  • "pokemon_won_notification_toast|2" "{0} has triumphed over your opponents!"
  • "nearby_raid_notification_toast|1" "There's a raid about to start near you!"
  • "nearby_raid_notification_toast|2" "A raid's going to start nearby!" "近くでバ

That sounds like you'll need to feed berries of some type to Pokémon that are on Gyms and also that raids and other mechanics will come into play.

No word on the timeline yet, other than spring.

Q3, 2017: Player vs. Player (PvP)?

John Hanke, CEO of Pokémon Go developer Niantic, spoke to Vice about this year's updates:

These include monster trading and player-versus-player battles. These are on the way, says Hanke, who adds that if the servers hadn't been so sketchy at launch, at least one of them would already be out there, likewise a gym battle system, supplementing what he feels is a "rudimentary" version of the game they envisioned.

"It's going to be done soon," he says. "It is what it is. I'll take the massive wave of hysteria we enjoyed, and just deal with the fact that it's caused us to take a bit longer to get the rest of the features up. We're really happy to make our users happy."

Fully bankrolled basically forever thanks to their success to date, Hanke once again wants to focus on Gen 2 and events.

With Pokémon Go established as the preeminent title people think of when you say "augmented reality"—and Hanke foresees that being the case for several years and platforms to come—and generation two Pokémon coming to the game, it's not about to fade away. And Hanke really is determined to make the social side of Niantic's creation all the more visible in the months ahead.

"My heart is really with events, and that's something I really want us to try to solve in 2017," he concludes. "It's complicated, though, to do them at the scale that Pokémon Go demands. But, to me, that would be the best demonstration of the vision of this company, which is all about playing games together, outside, with other people."

Can you sum that up for me?

Sure. Much have it has been rumored for a while, but here're the bullet points:

  • Q1: Pokémon Go Gen 2
  • Q2: New Gym system
  • Q3: Player vs. Player?
  • Q4: Trading?

Also: More Events!

How can you prepare for the new Gym system and PVP?

That could also go in a few different directions. If Pokémon Go makes substantive changes to the power levels and movesets, then it's wide open for all types of subtlety, nuance, and deep gameplay.

If not, if CP and movesets stay the same, then the answer in the future will be similar to what it is now: Get as many Tyranitar, Dragonite, Snorlax, Gyarados, Blissey, Rhydon, and Vaporeon and other top-tier attackers as possible, with the best movesets possible, and power them up as much as possible.

Best Pokémon to evolve and power up in Pokémon Go

What can you do to prepare for trading?

Since we don't know what mechanics will be involved — will you be able to trade with anyone, anywhere, or will you have to be physically standing next to someone to trade, like you to battle a Gym together? — it's hard to predict what you'll need to do.

Trading does require Pokémon you want to trade and that others want to trade for, though. That probably means you should accumulate some "extra" high-value Pokémon that are attractive but you won't mind giving up.

Regionals, including Taurus, Mr. Mime, Farfetch'd, and Kangaskhan will no doubt be super popular. Abundant for those in the right regions, impossible to find for those anywhere else, a top-notch regional will certainly be a hot commodity. If the trade mechanics make it easier than simply flying over to catch them.

High CP, high stat (IV), and great movesets will likely also be in high demand. You might not want to give up a perfect Dragonite, but you might be willing to trade a close-to-perfect one, or some Dratini so someone else can evolve.

Special editions, like Santa Hat Pikachu and Raichu, could also be of interest, especially to those who missed out on the Holiday 2016 event.

What do you want to see from Pokémon Go in 2017?

Are trades, PvP, better Gym battles, and the rest what you want to see from Pokémon Go in 2017? And if so, how would you like to see it implemented?