Since its official release just under two months ago, Pokemon Go has become nothing short of an international phenomenon, with wannabe trainers all over the world bumping into things as they hunt for virtual Pokemon in the real world. The app quickly became more downloaded than Tinder and despite experiencing a 22% drop in active players since launching, Pokemon Go is continuing to experience massive success compared to other mobile games and apps.

Despite its obvious popularity, players have noticed a number of gameplay features that developers Niantic could improve upon in order to deliver a more rewarding experience. These suggestions include removing the ability to snipe an empty gym after another trainer has defeated it, introducing trading between players and including a more innovative way of leveling-up or evolving your Pokemon. Whilst Niantic have already confirmed the addition of inter-trainer trading, it seems as if a solution to the leveling-up issue will be addressed first.

According to Pokemon Go Hub, a ‘Buddy system’ has been data-mined from the latest version of the app, indicating that Niantic will be introducing the feature in the near future. The Pokemon Go Buddy system will work in a similar way to the egg-hatching system where you walk a defined distance in order to hatch your egg. However, instead of applying to unborn creatures, the Buddy system applies to ones that you already own.

Trainers will effectively be able to ‘walk’ a Pokemon of their choice and doing so will reward them with that Pokemon’s candy, an item which can be used for both leveling-up and evolution. Only one Pokemon can be walked at any time and there will likely be a limit to how much candy can be obtained per day in order to prevent more athletic trainers from becoming too overpowered. It seems players will also have the added pleasure of their Buddy Pokemon appearing alongside them on the game screen, with some walking next to you, flying near you or even resting on your shoulder in the style of Ash Ketchum’s famous Pikachu.

Although the addition could be seen as just another form of grinding, the Buddy feature does give Pokemon Go players more control as to how quickly their Pokemon grow, instead of having to wait for the required Pokemon to appear, only for it to run away after it kindly wastes half your ball supply. Like the egg feature, the Buddy system will also give the game an added purpose during those periods where Pokemon aren’t appearing or when you’ve run out of balls and can’t find a Pokestop.

ash ketchum and pikachu pokemon Pokemon Go Buddy System Revealed; Game Hits $440 Million Mark

In other news, it has been reported by SensorTower that Pokemon Go has generated a total of $440 million in its short lifespan thus far, with over 180 million downloads across the world, equating to $4 million per day. This means Niantic have amassed a net revenue of $308 million, a figure greater than what some of this summer’s blockbusters achieved. The app has been installed by over 12% of U.S. smartphones and achieves an average daily usage-time of 32 minutes, a number that has remained more or less constant since the app was first released.

Whether you think Pokemon Go is an innovative and fun game that encourages people to be active or simply a passing fad that makes people crash their cars and chase things that don’t exist, it doesn’t seem as if the app is going to disappear any time soon. The Buddy system and other scheduled updates, which include the eventual addition of generation two Pokemon, demonstrate that Niantic are certainly planning for the long-term – and the added content should keep players entertained and coming back for more.

If the game can iron out its kinks and remove some of the more punishing elements of gameplay, there’s little indication that the Pokemon Go phenomenon will have disappeared by the end of the year. However, the world of mobile gaming is a fickle business and even successful apps like Candy Crush and Flappy Bird have a limited shelf life, with the latter proving that without constant new content, gamers will quickly move on to the next hot app.

NEXT: Pokemon Live-Action Movie Finds Its Writers

Pokemon Go is available now for both iOS and Android mobile devices.

Sources: PokemonGoHub, SensorTower (via Gamespot)

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