Niantic Labs revealed that it will be shutting down the Gyms feature of Pokémon GO, raising questions among Pokémon trainers on what the developer is planning for the mobile game.
The Gyms shutdown is actually expected, as Niantic Labs previously teased that the feature will be revamped as part of Pokémon GO's "legendary" summer.
Pokémon GO Gyms Shutting Down
According to the Pokémon GO support page, Gyms will be shut down starting Monday, June 19. All the Pokémon that players have assigned to defend Gyms will be returned to players once the feature is temporarily disabled.
A Niantic Labs spokesperson added on Reddit that players will need to collect their Defender bonuses before the Gyms are shut down. It is unclear if players will not be able to obtain their earned coins from Gyms once the feature comes back online if they were not able to do so before Gyms are closed. There is also no information if the defending Pokémon will automatically return to their posts once Gyms return, or if players will engage in a free-for-all to claim the suddenly empty Gyms.
What Is Niantic Labs Planning For Gyms?
In May at the TNW Conference in Amsterdam, Niantic Labs CMO Mike Quigley hinted that cooperative gameplay may be coming to Pokémon GO.
"You know, the gym mechanic is something in Pokémon GO which we really, really want to improve, so that's gonna be the next big area for us," Quigley then said. He added that while the capture mechanic of the game is fun, cooperative gameplay will add a "connected experience" that players can enjoy with their friends.
Gyms have also become very stagnant in Pokémon GO, as players have filled them with powerful Pokémon that only a few trainers can ever hope of matching. Whether the defending Pokémon are legitimate ones or are the result of cheating is another matter, but the consensus is that Gyms have become stale, with Gym fights not really requiring much of a strategy.
If Niantic Labs will indeed introduce cooperative gameplay into the Gyms of Pokémon GO, it will lead to a much more dynamic feature. Taking down defending Pokémon, no matter how strong, would be made much easier if players try to do so with their friends. This could also bring members of each of Pokémon GO's three teams together in real-life raids against Gyms claimed by an enemy team.
There is no word yet on when the Gyms of Pokémon GO will come back online, and if they will indeed support cooperative gameplay once they return. Niantic Labs will not likely make gamers wait too long though, with the update to the feature expected to be revealed soon.
Pokémon GO First Anniversary
The update to the Gyms feature is part of a wider celebration that commemorates Pokémon GO's first anniversary. In addition to the Solstice Event that focuses on fire-type and ice-type Pokémon, Niantic Labs is also planning the first real-world events for Pokémon GO players.
The Pokémon GO Fest will be held on July 22 at the Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois. Events are also being planned for gamers in Europe and Japan.