For the first time, Pokémon Go currently lets you trade with other players remotely – albeit with some caveats.
The feature is switched on from now until Monday, 16th November at 6pm UK time, as the latest in an ongoing series of limited-time tests.
It is currently limited to other players near you in a 12km radius.
Now, 12km may not sound a lot. But many players are friends with those in their local community, which this would cover, and it’s certainly far enough to remain socially distant.
The suggestion from developer Niantic is not that this will become a permanent fixture in the game, but one which it can switch on (and perhaps extend further) as part of future in-game events.
Why not allow trades with players anywhere in the world? Niantic has to walk a fine line here between keeping its collection-focused game balanced and keeping certain creatures unique to some parts of the world, and to certain other in-game conditions.
There are already illegitimate ways to gather these creatures without travelling there in person, and a complete removal of the distance barrier to trading would likely only encourage these further.
One compromise often suggested by players is to remove the distance barrier for Lucky Friends, a condition you can only reach with another player after a long period of in-game friendship and interaction.
Still, as the world continues to deal with the effects of the pandemic and the UK is once again in lockdown, this current test is a positive start.