Niantic Wayfarer wants you to help decide new Pokémon Go locations

Niantic Wayfarer Logo
Niantic Wayfarer Logo (Image credit: Niantic)

What you need to know

  • Niantic Wayfarer will allow people to nominate and review Wayspots in Niantic games.
  • It's a retooled version of Operation Portal Recon in Ingress.
  • Niantic expects to roll it out to eligible Pokémon Go players before the end of 2019.

Ever since Pokémon Go first launched, there's been plenty of discussion and debate about which real world locations have been chosen by Niantic to become PokéStops and gyms in the game. The devs gave people the ability to petition to have places removed from Pokémon Go for various (often very legitimate) reasons, but the newly-launched Niantic Wayfarer is flipping the script in a cool way, looking to increase the number of points of interest in its games.

The video below explains how it works in more detail, but the high concept is that Niantic Wayfarer is a retooled verison of Operation Portal Recon (OPR) — the tool that Ingress players used to nominate real-world locations for Portals within the game. The tool was originally only open to Level 10 or higher Ingress players, so it was only open to a select few.

Wayfarer will soon allow people to nominate locations for consideration, but more importantly, will allow people to review nominations made by others. It's not just the locations that will be involved, but also their names and descriptive text. Think of it as a Wikipedia of sorts for potential PokéStops and gyms.

Perhaps the coolest part is the way Niantic spells out what it's looking for in Wayspots, its game-agnostic term for AR locations mapped to the physical world. It wants you to help pick spots of cultural signifcance that are easily recognizable, though not ones that are on private property, dangerous to access, or too close to schools.

This seems like a dream come true for players who bemoan the fact that there aren't enough gyms where they live (rural residents are already nodding along), and if you're into Ingress — which supplied the seed for Niantic Wayfarer with its Operation Portal Recon — or Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, it figures to be helpful there too.

The tool is already live for those high-level Ingress players that originally used OPR. However, Niantic added that the tool will be available for eligible Pokémon Go players before 2020 arrives. It's unclear what "eligible" means in this case, but we'll be keeping an eye on it.

Update Oct. 14, 2019: Added text to clarify Wayfarer's connection to OPR, along with who is eligible to use the tool.

Nick Tylwalk