'Pokemon GO' developer makes it easier for gamers to play indoors amid coronavirus outbreak

The developer of the wildly popular “Pokemon GO” game has made it easier for gamers to play the game indoors amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“The safety of our global player community is our top priority. COVID-19 is challenging us and the world to adjust,” tweeted Niantic Labs on March 12. “We’re putting our focus on expanding features and experiences in our games that can be enjoyed in an individual setting and that also encourage exploration!"

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The augmented reality game lets players ‘capture’ digital creatures at real locations using their smartphones. Digital items that can be used within the game can be found at so-called ‘PokeStops,’ which are often located at real landmarks.

In a blog post, Niantic Labs explained that the changes are effective March 12, until further notice. The move will make it easier for gamers to collect “Pokemon GO” monsters without venturing outdoors, according to the Polygon website.

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“As part of our commitment to player safety, for the next 30 days, we removed the walking requirement for GO Battle League globally to make it possible for Trainers everywhere to participate,” tweeted Niantic Labs on March 13.

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“Pokemon GO” quickly became a global phenomenon when it was launched in 2016, but also fueled public safety fears amid concerns over distracted pedestrians, dangerous driving and trespassing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers