Starting today, Niantic will begin rolling out updated Gyms, with changes designed to encourage users to visit and engage with Gyms more often. These updated Gyms will feature six permanent slots that can be filled by the controlling team’s Pokemon. Opposing teams will battle these Pokemon in the order they were assigned to the Gym.
In addition, a new motivation system will see Pokemon that are defending a Gym lose motivation over time (and as they are defeated), which temporarily lowers their effective combat power and makes it easier for the opposing teams to defeat them. However, friendly trainers can also give berries to defending Pokemon to raise their motivation and protect the Gym. Once a Pokemon loses all of its motivation, it will leave the Gym and return to its owner the next time it loses a battle.
Finally, each updated Gym will have a photo disc for users to spin to receive special items (like a PokeStop). Users will also be able to earn special Gym Badges as they interact with Gyms.
In order to put this update into effect, Niantic is temporarily disabling all in-game Gyms. Once the update has rolled out worldwide, Gyms will once again be available.
Niantic also announced that new Raid Battles will be introduced in a future update. These cooperative battles will allow players to work with other nearby players to defeat Pokemon called Raid Bosses. Each of these timed battles will temporarily take over a Gym, and will support up to 20 players from across all three in-game teams. Players will also be able to create Private Raid groups and invite their friends to specific Raids.
Once a Raid Boss is defeated, players will receive a variety of prizes, including new items that are exclusive to these battles: Rare Candies, Golden Razz Berries and two types of Technical Machines (Fast and Charged). Players may also have a chance to capture the Raid Boss Pokemon for themselves.
In order to participate in Raid Battles, players will need new items called Raid Passes. Users will be able to earn one free Raid Pass per day by visiting a Gym, but they’ll only be able to hold one Raid Pass at a time. Players will also be able to purchase Premium Raid Passes from the game’s store.
Overall, with Pokemon Go’s Gyms being attached to real-world locations, these updates could drive traffic to these locations, similar to how PokeStops drive traffic to their spots (including sponsored PokeStops such as Starbucks restaurants and Sprint stores). In February, Niantic said Pokemon Go had driven over 500 million visits to sponsored PokeStops.
Pokemon Go has been downloaded more than 750 million times since its launch last July. Niantic recently partnered with Wieden+Kennedy London to launch a campaign celebrating the game’s activity in several worldwide locations, including New York, London and Tokyo.