Niantic has revamped gym trainer battles in a large update to Pokemon GOthat could help fix one of the game’s biggest retention issues.
Gyms will now feature six permanent slots for the controlling team to fill with pokemon. Previously this number was initially limited to three, with a team levelling up a gym and opening new slots by training their pokemon at it.
Motivating players and pokemon
A motivation system has also been introduced to pokemon assigned to a gym, which means they'll lose combat power over time and as they are defeated. Combat power can be replenished by giving defending pokemon special berries to keep them motivated - which will mean regularly returning to captured gyms.
Berries can be obtained through visiting various pokestops and cannot be bought.
New gyms will now also act similar to pokestops, letting players who walk by them spin a photo disc to retrieve items.
An upcoming update in the next few weeks will also introduce co-operative Raid Battles. Players can team up with other local trainers to defeat powerful pokemon during timed in-game events at gyms, offering the chance to catch up and obtain new items. A code system will also be implemented allowing users to create private Raid groups.
These updates add a number of new gameplay elements beyond a previously limited gym system and main focus on catching them all, which could alleviate the pressure on releasing new pokemon to keep the game's most avid fans playing.
That's not to say Pokemon GO isn't still popular and a strong earner for Niantic regardless. It remains one of the top grossing titles in the world a year after its release and recently surpassed 750 million downloads worldwide.