Pokemon Go has announced plans to test out several new minor features in the coming weeks and months, starting with a soft launch of a new PokeStop power-up feature. Earlier today, Niantic posted a brief update to its official Pokemon Go blog announcing several upcoming minor gameplay adjustment tests in various parts of the world. Some of these features are geared towards onboarding new Pokemon Go players, including nickname suggestions for new trainers, a new Special Research story designed to introduce new trainers to the game, and an expanded set of Trainer Tips. Pokemon Go will also test out egg hatch updates that will allow players to skip the hatch animation for the first time.
The most vague feature mentioned in the blogpost is the mention of new PokeStop functionalities. However, this is the feature that was quietly rolled out to some players in New Zealand earlier today. Some players are now testing the ability to power up PokeStops for a limited amount of time. Players can power up a PokeStop or gym by scanning the location in AR. When a PokeStop is powered up, they give out better and rarer items based on what level the PokeStop is powered up to. However, powering up a PokeStop only lasts for a limited amount of time. The feature is currently being tested by players of Level 20 or higher in New Zealand.
We've known about powering up PokeStops for a while thanks to datamines of Pokemon Go's code. However, this is the first time that Pokemon Go has officially launched the new feature, and the first confirmation we have that it will tie into the game's AR scanning feature. Niantic uses AR scanning when building its AR database, which it plans to use in future games and apps.
Pokemon Go is also preparing to launch its annual Halloween event, which will bring more new Pokemon and costumed Pokemon to the game. This year, Pokemon Go will add Phantump, Pumpkaboo, and Galarian Slowking to the game as part of its Halloween festivities, as well as the shiny version of Spinarak. The Halloween event launches on October 15th.