Families who play Pokémon GO and have dreamed of taking their kids to the game's annual live event, Pokémon GO Fest, may have an easier time doing it this year.
The augmented reality game played via mobile app encourages participants to get out and explore their real-world surroundings by connecting the Pokémon universe to actual local businesses and landmarks
But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the game's creators are taking the need to travel out of the equation, allowing families to participate in Pokémon GO Fest 2020 right in their own backyards.
Niantic formerly held Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago, Illinois, and in cities in Germany and Japan, where hundreds of thousands of fans traveled to designated outdoor parks to meet up in person and participate in special in-game challenges. But the spread of COVID-19 left the game creators needing a more socially distant way to connect fans.
"While we can’t bring hundreds of thousands of people together in a local park, we can certainly recreate the spirit of what Pokémon GO Fest represents," Niantic said in a blog post. "We’ve designed this year's event so trainers around the world can go outside to play and celebrate the summer, and do so, of course, while practicing social distancing and being safe."
Tickets for the 2020 event, which will be held over the weekend of July 25-26, are on sale now. A GO Fest ticket, which covers both days of play, will cost each participant (each mobile device running the event and playing along) $14.99. Participants will enjoy a brand new adventure within the app on those days, and will have special projects and assignments to complete, all exclusive to the ticketed event.
During past in-person Pokémon GO events, the parks where the events were held were split into various "habitats," where players could complete tasks and catch different Pokémon. For the virtual event, there will be rotating habitats within the app which will change every hour, regardless of the player's geographic location.
Players will still be able to connect with other Pokémon GO players around the world. In a new feature on its app, Niantic Social, players will be paired to work together to complete special tasks themed to each of the rotating habitats. Niantic will facilitate online virtual team lounges, where players can connect online.
Families who want the full Pokémon GO Fest experience will also be able to print a kit of decorations to give their living room or backyard the same decorated vibe of a live event.
Niantic plans to donate all proceeds from Pokémon GO Fest ticket sales to supporting the Black community amid the continuing protests surrounding the deaths of George Floyd other victims of police brutality. The proceeds will fund new projects from Black gaming and augmented reality creators as well as donating to U.S. non-profit organizations who are helping communities rebuild.