Pokémon Go trainers, brace yourselves. You can begin trading Pokémon this week.
The popular mobile game has added a slew of features since its 2016 launch, but a new addition reminiscent of the classic Pokémon Game Boy games will finally roll out this week.
Niantic, the developer behind Pokémon Go, announced the big update today along with a new feature that will now allow trainers to curate friends lists, which the company calls “social features,” that aim to foster a greater in-person Pokémon Go community.
There will also be Alolan forms (a type of Pokémon) that trainers can only obtain by working together with their friends, and other rewards that stem from building strong friendships in the game, such as Stardust discounts.
Here’s how you can use the new functions.
Pokémon Go trainers can send friend requests by using numerical codes — similar to how it’s done on the Nintendo Switch. Although each player can only have 200 friends, it might increase later.
The friend list is accessible by going to the trainer screen and tapping a friends tab. It will list your friends’ statistics, such as the number of Pokémon they’ve caught and how far they’ve walked, and at this friend center, you can also send people gifts that you collect from PokéStops.
The friend list also displays the friendship level between you and another trainer: best friends (the closest), ultra friends, great friends, good friends, and friends (the most distant).
“To get from friend to good friend is one day, and then from good friend to great friend is seven days total,” explained Pokémon Go software engineer Kirsten Koa during the Niantic E3 press conference over the weekend. “And then great friend to ultra friend is 30 days total, and then ultra friend to best friend is 90.”
These categorizations unlock different capabilities and are based on how many battles and raids you perform together, gifts you send each other, and Pokémon you trade.
At last, trading can commence. But expanding your collection requires Stardust and for you to be of age: trainers who require parental approval (i.e. those under the age of 13) won’t be allowed to trade.
Trainers who are friends must play near each other in order to trade Pokémon — online exchanges are not allowed — and the amount of Stardust required to trade is determined by the friendship strength. The stronger the friendship, the cheaper the trade.
People at a basic friend level might have to pay seven figures each in Stardust to trade, while people at an ultra level could pay less than six figures in total for that same trade (trades cost the same amount of Stardust for both friends involved in the transaction).
Friend levels also impact whether the traded Pokémon will get upgraded or downgraded after the trade (a higher-level one could become less powerful once the Pokémon reaches its new trainer’s phone, while a lower-level one could become more powerful).
Players can only trade once a day, and they have to at least be at level 10 to participate in this Pokémon tradition.
According to software engineer Koa, the game has so many caveats for trading Pokémon, because they did not want a “black market” of Pokémon trading to sprout up. Whether this update significantly impacts the game competition remains to be seen, but we’re just glad we finally have something we can do with all our unwanted (but good!) Pokémon.