‘Pokemon GO’ Update: New Patch Quietly Nerfs Egg Hatching, Buddy Walking Mechanic

Time was, you could play Pokemon GO at home, leaving the game on and letting GPS drift do its magic. This loophole of sorts allowed gamers to accumulate small amounts of distance toward egg hatching and buddy walking, allowing them to hatch their eggs or accumulate candy through the Buddy system with no effort, and no actual walking needed. But the latest Pokemon GO update quietly killed that update dead, leaving players with no other choice but to walk (or drive very slowly) in order to add to the distance required for an egg to hatch or candy to be accrued for a given Pokemon Buddy.

One frequent knock against Pokemon GO maker Niantic Labs is how the company arguably makes the game harder and harder to play with each update. The perceived drop-off of 10km eggs, increased chances of Pokemon escaping or fleeing after getting caught, the temporary removal of the step tracker, and the crackdown on third-party apps designed to help players catch more creatures have all been cited as ways for Niantic to add to the challenge, albeit much to the detriment of many players.

Niantic has tried to lure fans back through seasonal events, the introduction of new Pokemon such as Ditto, and, as Heavy explained, the removal of the oh-so-common Pidgey and Rattata from the available creatures that can hatch from 2km eggs. Despite those efforts, excitement and interest in the game has waned significantly, and there has been a huge drop-off in player activity on Pokemon GO.

One would think the newest update for the title would bring about the much-awaited Generation 2 Pokemon or the Legendary Birds, or even something to make it less frustrating to catch, hatch, or walk Pokemon. The Inquisitr reported earlier today that there may be some clues pointing to an imminent Gen 2 update, which should be good for players, but what many players failed to notice right away was the new nerf that makes it even more of a chore to hatch eggs and walk Buddy Pokemon for candy.

As players wait for the rest of the Gen 2 Pokemon to roll out after the holiday events’ limited rollout of seven baby characters, hatching eggs and gathering candy through Buddy Pokemon is all there is to it for many, who are simply waiting to fill out their Pokedex by catching or evolving creatures not easily found in the wild. But the following entry from the new Pokemon GO update’s change log might come as bad news to players who are familiar with the term being referred to.

“Changed distance tracking to better account for GPS drift.”

According to Forbes, GPS drift is the phenomena that takes place when satellites get scrambled and unsure about your exact position, causing your character to jump to and fro on the in-game map, thereby counting toward your egg hatching or buddy walking distance. It doesn’t exactly work as well as regular walking does, or the currently-being-cracked-down-on process of leaving Pokemon GO on while you’re driving on or a passenger in a vehicle. But if you leave your game on for long enough, it could make a world of difference without players having to step out of the house for a walk or a jog.

With the positive scripting Niantic used in its change log, the new Pokemon GO update’s GPS drift corrections seem like a good thing. But Forbes stressed that this “nerf” may not go down well with players for a number of reasons aside from egg hatching/Buddy walking being the best ways to fill out a Pokedex with a lot of blanks.

For one, the winter months in many parts of the world make it oftentimes difficult, or even impossible for players to step outside and walk. But on a more pointed note, Forbes said that players will find it harder to accumulate additional distance because walking distances in the game credit players too modestly in comparison to the real figure.

“You can track yourself going on a three km run exactly with another device, yet Pokemon GO will say you went no more than 1.9 km. GPS drift doesn’t nearly make up for this disparity, but it did help as a bit of free recompense for distance lost. Presumably this drift fix does not fix the issues with movement-based tracking that currently plague the game.”

Since the release of Pokemon GO, Niantic Labs has been accused by gamers several times on Reddit of being arrogant and unwilling to listen to or care for player concerns. And while it’s too early to say, the new Pokemon GO update might not end up a very popular one, due to how hard it is now for players to get those much-needed kilometers for their eggs or Buddy Pokemon.

[Featured Image by Olivia Harris/Getty Images]