Where the Heck is my Buddy Update?!
“The buddy system is being released right now!” Is what I told people literally over three days ago.
So, we’ve all been playing it all weekend, right? Still no. As far as my phone is concerned, my app has been up to date for weeks.
On September 10, Niantic made the following announcement about an update to Pokémon GO:
Pokémon GO is in the process of being updated to version 0.37.0 for Android and 1.7.0 for iOS devices. Below are some release notes and comments from our development team.
– Implemented Buddy Pokémon: Trainers will now be able to choose one of their Pokémon to be their buddy. A Trainer can earn Candy for their Buddy Pokémon by walking a certain distance.
– Made it easier to select smaller Pokémon on the screen.
– Fixed an issue where Eggs would sometimes hatch without displaying the animation.
– Improved performance reliability when a device switches networks to no longer cause the application to hang or stop updating.
– Pokémon GO Plus support
– Minor text fixes.
We continue to focus on eliminating bots and scrapers from Pokémon GO. Rooted or jailbroken devices are not supported by Pokémon GO. Remember to download Pokémon GO from the official Google Play Store or iTunes App Store only.
The Pokémon GO team
So, what is the Buddy System? As the update says, it enables Trainers to “choose one of their Pokémon to be their buddy. A Trainer can earn Candy for their Buddy Pokémon by walking a certain distance.” Every player can choose or remove a buddy Pokemon at will, and can pick whatever of their Pokémon to stand by their side in the Trainer screen at a given time.
The Buddy System isn’t EXTREMELY effective, but it is still a cool addition. The candy provided will be very useful for training your favorite Pokémon. In addition to stardust, it takes 193 candy to get a Pokémon from level 30 (wild max) to level 40. It takes 68 candy to get a Pokémon from level 20 (egg max) to level 30.
The announcement on Pokemon.com hints that there are even additional benefits, outside of candy. One purely-sentimental benefit is that you can now pick a Pokémon that you are excited to journey with, and specifically make them stronger. This increases the bond between a Pokémon and Trainer in a way that did not previously exist in this game.
If you want your starter Charmander to train into a Charizard, now you can work to do it! However, if you’re exclusively using the buddy system, you have to walk 375 kilometers in order to gain the candies necessary to evolve a Charmander into a Charizard. And even though Magikarp kicks out 3 times as much candy per kilometer walked, if you want a Gyarados you will still get even more of a workout with 400 total kilometers! Neither of these compares to the 625 km needed for Dratini to Dragonite though, which is the worst that it currently gets. (This makes sense, though, as Dragonite is the highest CP Pokemon in Gen 1, other than Mewtwo. Dragonite can go toe-to-toe with Mew or any legendary bird and still come out on top.)
Sounds cool, right? So why did Niantic tease us and then forget to actually release it? Well, it isn’t really as simple as that. They did begin the release roll-out exactly when they said that they would. Niantic pushes out an update to Android and iOS at the same time. Android releases it according to the link in the paragraph above, but iOS has this whole process that it has to go through that can sometimes make it take up to 48 hours longer. But if it makes Apple users feel any better, the Google Play Store still doesn’t have the update for most users, anyway.
The reason that we are all still waiting is because of the bugs.
They initially set this roll-out to a very low percentage to make sure there weren’t any significant bugs released to the wider audience. There were bugs, though. Including blatant formatting errors in the appraisal feature, significantly increased load times and crashes, but most significantly, egg hatching and buddy “finding” seem to be affecting each other in an unintended way that gives you an extra buddy candy if you hatch an egg at the same time. Unfortunately, they are probably getting rid of this as we speak.
The new update also adds the Buddy System and fixes some issues as described in the official announcement above, and that’s cool. It even added the Pokémon GO Plus support that Nintendo has been waiting for. (An update that will immediately benefit some players who already have the device in their hands, due to an accident where some GO+ boxes were shipped out early.) But as always, each new update seems to add a new flavor of instability and bugs. Each update to this game has somehow CHANGED the game-play experience, but rarely has it only improved it.
Of course, the APK file was available online almost from the minute the rollout began, and is available for anyone who is feeling impatient and wants to download it right now. But many users are somewhat wary of Niantic’s warning in the announcement above to “Remember to download Pokémon GO from the official Google Play Store or iTunes App Store only.” …Why would they specifically point that out this time?
So while you wait your turn in this sluggish roll-out, let us offer some consolation. This time around, it didn’t turn out to be their best update. Some users are already complaining that this is a really crash-prone build, and they are reverting back to old versions. So don’t cry into your pillow too hard because you don’t have it, yet.