At Pokémon Go Fest 2020, millions of players caught nearly a billion Pokémon

Niantic announced today that Pokémon Go Fest 2020 drew millions of players who caught nearly a billion Pokémon over the weekend.

The annual fest took place on July 25 and July 26 as an online-only event, in contrast to prepandemic years, when it was held as a physical event in big parks in different regions. I joined for a bit on Sunday and collected some new critters such as the Tangela, Stunfisk, and the Qwilfish.

The San Francisco-based Niantic said that millions of people attended online from 124 countries and regions. They defeated more than 58 million Team Go Rocket members, as Team Rocket was taking over a number of locations as part of the special event. Players sent 55 million gifts to each other, and on average they walked nearly 15 kilometers each.

Niantic said that it will donate more than $10 million to U.S. nonprofits that help local communities rebuild after being hit with the pandemic, and it is funding new projects from Black gaming and augmented reality creators who build for the Niantic platform, which uses real-world locations.

Niantic said it had to reimagine the entire event in digital form so that players could interact safely from wherever they are. Earlier, at the onset of the pandemic, Niantic made it easier for people to remotely catch creatures from a greater distance, and it allowed for more social distancing at locations such as Gyms, where players would often physically gather for co-op battles.

The company said that players and others have nominated more than 33,000 small businesses to date in another contest. Niantic will narrow that list down to 1,000 that will be featured as locations inside Pokémon Go. If you’re interested in nominating your favorite local business (eligible countries include U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada, and Great Britain), submissions are open until 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on July 31.

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