After a frustrating wait, when the update’s release was announced by developer, Niantic, but very few players seemed to have it, the update finally rolled out across U.S and Europe mid last week. The botched update release is yet another in a growing list of customer relation disasters for Niantic after the release of Pokémon Go, with the long wait after the update’s announcement causing players to joke on forums that Niantic had remembered to update their Twitter feed before leaving work for the weekend but forgotten to send the update to Google and Apple. While amusing, it seems more likely that Niantic intended the update to roll out to just a few accounts to start but didn’t communicate it in their announcement.
The important thing is that trainers can now choose a buddy Pokémon from their assembled collection which will then join you on your profile page and collect candy as you walk. This is of particular value for those rare Pokémon which you may have caught or hatched one of and then not seen since. Previously, the only way to gain candy to power up and evolve Pokémon was to catch or hatch them which depended on an element of luck or, if you’re determined enough, the study of spawning maps in your area and a specific journey. With the buddy system, you can assign that rare or uncommon Pokémon as your buddy and it will collect candy as you walk, potentially allowing you to evolve a Pokémon that you’ve only caught or hatched one of.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the rarer the Pokémon, the further the distance is to walk to discover candy, which ranges from 1km for common Pokémon like Pidgey and Magikarp to 5km for rare Pokémon like Snorlax and Eevee, with uncommon Pokémon needing 3km. With frustration having long set in for many players about the limited variety of Pokémon spawning in a given area, and the relative grinding feeling of catching hundreds of Pidgeys before finally spotting an uncommon one, only for it to have a CP of 50, this is a much needed update, which seems to give a little more power to the trainer to level the Pokémon they actually want. So well done Niantic, but please do work on your communication. The phrase you were looking for is ‘a limited release, for some players, followed by a full release next week’. See how simple that is?