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Pokémon GO adding friends, special gifts, and trading between players

Trading has always been fundamental to the world of Pokémon, but the concept has only been a promise for Pokémon GO. Niantic announced that will soon change, however, as new friend features are finally coming to the game.


Before now, social features have been limited to joining one of three gyms, defending the same gyms, and battling against high level Pokémon in group raids. But soon, Niantic says, players will start to see a new Friends feature roll out:

The Friends feature will start rolling out to Trainers later this week, allowing you to connect with your real-life friends and keep track of their adventures in Pokémon GO. You’ll be able to send them items, earn bonuses—and even trade Pokémon!

Friends can be added and accepted using a unique trainer code. From there, Pokémon GO will have a new friends list within the game where you can see other players and access their profile.

Special Gifts

The first new social feature coming to Pokémon GO is a new “special gift” that you can receive at PokéStops or Gyms.

You can’t use items in the special gift yourself, however, as they’re meant to be shared with friends. Special gifts will also include a location-specific postcard from the corresponding PokéStop or Gym so you can share your journey with your friends.

Niantic says special gifts may also include eggs that hatch the “Alolan form of a Pokémon originally discovered in the Kanto region.”

Friendship Level

Pokémon GO will also measure Friendship Level between friends, ranking from Good to Great to Ultra to Best — just like in real life, right?

Friendship Level will be important because it allows friends to unlock bonuses like increased Attack level during group battles in Gyms and Raids. Niantic says Friendship Level can be increased once each day per friend through various activities like:

  • sending a gift to a friend
  • battling in a Gym or Raid together
  • trading Pokémon with a friend

Trading Pokémon

At last, a core concept of the Pokémon world is coming to Pokémon GO! Pokémon can be traded between nearby friends who are level 10 or higher.

This means you can’t trade Pokémon with friends currently across the world, but there is a bonus for trading Pokémon caught from different locations. Players will receive a bonus candy (used to evolve Pokémon) for traded Pokémon, and you can earn a bonus when trading Pokémon caught far from each other.

Like powering up, trading Pokémon will use Stardust so it won’t be totally unlimited — but friends with higher friendship levels will require less Stardust than lower friendship level friends.

Special Trades

Finally, there is a concept of trading certain Pokémon called Special Trade. This kicks in for Legendary Pokémon, Shiny Pokémon, and Pokémon that the receiver hasn’t registered in their Pokédex.

Special Trades have specific limitations in addition to what you see with regular trading:

  • once per day
  • only between Great or Best friends
  • generally more Stardust required

Niantic says Pokémon GO friend features will “start rolling out to Trainers later this week” so stay tuned. Pokémon GO is a free game with optional in-app purchases.

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Avatar for Zac Hall Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.