Games developer Niantic has updated its Pokémon Go app, as the augmented-reality game’s popularity has slumped from its record-breaking user numbers back in June.
The news comes as Niantic has announced a series of other commercial announcements intended to lure players back to Pokémon Go and generate more revenue, including turning Sprint stores into gyms and pokéstops, a new pokémon-themed Starbucks drink, and limited-time in-game events.
The revamp will see a roster of new pocket monsters available in the game, including the Pichu, Togepi, and other pokémon pulled from the second generation Pokémon Gold and Silver.
In addition to the new generation two monsters, starting from now until December 29th, Pokémon Go will also be home to a “special edition” version of Pikachu. What makes him special is that he wears a festive holiday hat.
At its launch in June 2016, Pokémon Go tapped into demand for the hugely popular franchise and brought augmented reality gaming into the mainstream.
Pokémon Go generated about $600m (£470m) in global revenue in its first three months and is still bringing in $120,000 a day in the UK, according to analysts at App Annie.
However, downloads have dropped sharply, falling from 79 million in July to less than 10 million in November.
Analysts, though, point out it has an enormous player base and is still one of the highest grossing mobile games.
US firm Niantic developed the game under licence from Nintendo.
The update will compete for attention with Nintendo’s own Super Mario game, which will be released on iPhone on Thursday.
Coffee shop chain Starbucks announced that 7,800 Starbucks stores in the US are turning into PokéStops and Gyms and also serving a limited run vanilla bean Frappuccino blended with raspberry syrup and dried blackberries, then topped with whipped cream.
Niantic released the following statement about the partnership:
We are happy to announce that Starbucks is now an official partner of Pokémon GO.
Starbucks has a long-standing commitment to providing spaces for social interaction and real-world community building in its extensive network of locations. We appreciate their role in creating safe, welcoming locations for people from all walks of life to come together for refreshment and social engagement. Starting 11 A.M. PST on December 8th, this new partnership will transform 7,800 company-operated Starbucks stores in the United States into PokéStops and Gyms, giving Trainers even more places to play and to engage with their local Pokémon GO communities. And to cap it all off, Starbucks is creating a special-edition Pokémon GO Frappuccino® for everyone!
Whether you’re on your daily morning commute or just out exploring your neighborhood with your loved ones, make sure you collect items from the new Starbucks PokéStops or battle in the new Gyms with your favorite Pokémon!
— The Pokémon GO team