In-App Purchases in Pokémon Go

Bob McFadden

There was an update to the Pokémon GO beta app on May 25, 2016. The majority of the changes are related to the in-app purchases, so this is a good time to review the in-game store.

The Store was added in GO version 0.21.1, and updated in 0.23.1. When you are on your main game view screen, there is a button at the bottom that can take you to the Pokémon GO Store, which acts somewhat like a PokeMart. You buy items from the store using an in-game currency called PokeCoins. (For those following PoGO’s progress closely, these replace the ‘gems’ seen in the SxSW leak.) There is currently no way to buy PokeCoins with real-life money, and we expect that this won’t be added at any point in the field test, which will be wiping all of the data at its conclusion anyway. So right now, beta testers are given 100 PokeCoins by the Professor every day that they log into the app, instead. We hope that this daily PokeCoin bonus continues into the full release to at least some extent, but we’ll have to wait to see what happens. The APK code also suggests that PokeCoins may be found on the ground randomly while out exploring the world. This is another potential way to gain PokeCoins without spending your real-life cash. Exciting, but again, we’ll have to wait and see.

Items that can be found in the store include:

Item Storage Upgrade

Adds extra Item storage slots to backpack

Currently, all beta testers have space for 1000 items such as PokeBalls, Great Balls, Ultra Balls, Master Balls, Potions, Revives, Max Revives, Berries, etc. But apparently they are expecting that people might need to purchase more inventory space to hold everything, so we guess that the inventory space of 1000 will not last for long.

Pokémon Storage Upgrade

Adds extra Pokémon storage slots to Pokémon party

Previously, all beta testers had space for 500 Pokémon and 500 eggs. The space for eggs has already been limited all the way down from 500 to just 9, and we can expect the Pokémon to be limited as well. In Niantic’s other game, Ingress, the amount of exotic matter you can hold increases as you level up. We may see a similar mechanic in Pokémon GO where you are given more space to hold Pokémon as you progress through the game. Apart from that, you’re gonna have to shell out PokeCoins to buy more room.

Incubator

Hatches eggs while walking

As we mentioned above, there have been some changes to Pokémon Eggs. In addition to now only being able to carry 9 instead of 500, required walking ranges have been expanded to include walking anywhere from 1km to 5km to hatch an egg, and you now need to use an in-game item called an Incubator to hatch the eggs. While beta testers are provided with an indestructible Incubator, at game launch we will have to buy a temporary-use kind from this Store. Eggs do not progress towards hatching unless they are placed in the incubator, and the incubator breaks after 5 uses. This will make hatching eggs much more exclusive, and probably generate a solid chunk of IAP revenue for the Pokémon Company and Niantic.

Lucky Egg

Double XP for 30 minutes

In the main-games, the Lucky Egg was a permanent item which increased the experience gained in battle by the Pokémon holding it. In Pokémon GO, it is a temporary item (with a timer that appears on your map) that increases the experience gained by the Trainer. This is probably best used right when you start playing the game, in order to take advantage of all of those 500xp “first time caught” boosts. The Lucky Egg can be purchased in quantities of 1, 5, or 20. With this item, a player can easily gain several levels in their first half hour of game-play.

Incense

Increased Pokémon spawning for 30 min

As above, the 30 minute timer appears on the screen. The APK reveals that there are multiple types of incense, such as spicy incense, floral incense, and just the ordinary incense. However, the exact effect that the incense has on Pokémon spawning is still unclear, apart from the fact that it draws more Pokémon to you. This item can be purchased in quantities of 1, 4, or 8.

PokeBalls

Buy a pack of 100 PokeBalls

You can use the Store to buy an enormous pack of PokeBalls, in lieu of collecting them little by little through ordinary means (visiting PokeStops and leveling up). So if you happen to be standing right next to a legendary Pokémon and you have completely run out of PokeBalls, you can head to the in-game store and make a desperate grab for this pack of a hundred, and pray that on one of those hundred throws, the ball stops shaking.

Revive

Revives a fainted Pokémon.

If your favorite Pokémon faints in battle, and you want to use them again, you can head to the store and buy a Revive to bring them back into the action. The Revive is actually a new item in the game. Previously, only Max Revives could be obtained (through spinning PokeStops). I will personally be more focused on the exploring and capturing concepts of the game. But for those competitive Gym players, this item is going to frequently be a must-have.

PokeStop Disc

Unknown.

The last item found in the Store is the most mysterious. We have no idea what its purpose is, as of right now, aside from the obvious assumption that it is somehow related to PokeStops. Some suggestions have been that it might affect cool-down rates, lowering the wait between spins from the current time of five minutes. Maybe it is an item that you can deploy to create a temporary PokeStop wherever you are standing, so that yourself and others can access it to gain some loot. Time will tell.

Thanks as always to The Silph Road for insight into these updates. The game development is rolling along, and beta testers will be roaming the United States any day now. In any case, in-app purchases are going to be a part of the game, which may be disheartening to some. However, based on the responsible way that Niantic has handled IAP in the past with Ingress, I don’t expect it to ruin the game. If you need more space, maybe clean out some stuff instead of buying more space. Or you could level up to gain more room. While it would be nice to have a 2x XP multiplier, you can still earn the same amount of XP as Lucky-Egg-ers given a little more time and effort. The same idea goes for collecting Pokeballs or Revives, and with using Incense and catching Pokémon. You can still get all that stuff and accomplish those same goals without buying anything, the micro-transactions just take the classic route of getting there a little faster and lazier.

The only thing that really scares me is only being able to hatch eggs with the Incubator. Of course, you don’t need to hatch eggs to get Pokémon, but the Pokémon hatched from eggs are stronger and sometimes rarer than those likely to be caught in the wild. I hope that Incubators are sometimes found at PokeStops or through other means, instead of exclusively IAP, and then I think everything will be alright.

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