You’d think, what with the events of 2020, that this year would be bad for Pokemon Go. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. This year has been better than all previous years when it comes to making money. Pretty early on, Niantic added a bunch of benefits to allow most players to play at home. Free daily items, Team Rocket balloons, buffed incense, your daily spawn, all changes to make the game playable in a locked down environment. One of the more major changes was the removal of the walking requirement to access the Go Battle League, which means players can easily battle each other while sitting on their asses.
There’s only two things that still rely on walking, and that’s hatching eggs and spinning Pokestops.
Can’t really hatch eggs when stuck at home!
Well, that’s not completely true. Adventure Sync can be used to try and hatch eggs, but it’s… a finicky beast. Adventure Sync is supposed to work alongside whatever apps your phone has to track your steps and movement while exercising. But it also requires location data to be on all the time and for you to have your phone with you while you exercise. Even when Adventure Sync does work, it doesn’t track all your movements anyway.
But if Adventure Sync doesn’t work, then there’s one other option.
GPS is accurate most of the time. Basically, a bunch of geostationary satellites work together and, based on some complicated mathematics, work out pretty much what your location is. But technology is not perfect. The Earth is huge, those satellites are in space, there’s tons of concrete and frequencies and weather and all sorts of variables that get in the way. Sometimes, these cause your location to get out of sync with GPS and anything tracking your position will no longer be completely accurate.
In Pokemon Go, this appears as your character walking around and wandering off on its own, even if you’re standing completely still. On a weaker device, your character will wander around a lot. But Pokemon Go can’t tell the difference, and will just think this is normal movement, which it will contribute to egg hatching.
This drift can be very powerful.
In the right environment, your character in Pokemon Go will end up constantly moving. Which means you will slowly accumulate distance, meaning you can slowly hatch eggs!
And by slowly, I mean very slowly. 2km isn’t a long way to travel, and it takes at least half a day of GPS drift to actually hatch a 2km egg.
As for Pokestops? Well, just got to hope that one is close enough.
If you’re very lucky, GPS drift will also send you running towards your nearest Pokestop. But whether you do or not is completely based on chance. And requires you to have a Pokestop nearly within range anyway. Unless you have a Pokestop within a block or so of your normal location, it’s unlikely that you’ll GPS drift towards one.
Sadly, there’s still no way around not having nearby Pokestops. Sure, we have the daily research task, which can actually reward a good number of berries and resources. But these require you to have some resources in the first place. Aside from “power up a Pokemon 5 times”, all the other ones involve feeding berries or catching Pokemon. That being said, the tasks are definitely doable as long as you have one Pokemon spawn within reach.
“Isn’t that cheating?”
I’d honestly say no. The benefits of using GPS drift are practically useless if you’re capable of going out for walks and doing normal exercise. Or if Adventure Sync actually works for you. But for a lot of people, there’s no going outside, no going for walks or anything. Staying inside is currently the safe thing to do, and that means no playing Pokemon Go when the incense dries up. Even then, the only way to make real use of GPS drift is to have your phone on all the time. And that’s honestly not too healthy for your phone. You shouldn’t just leave your phone charging and running Pokemon Go, it ruins your battery.
Heck, GPS drift can happen at pretty much any moment and can easily be a hindrance. Sure, I’ve managed to hatch a handful of eggs, but I’ve also had GPS drift kick me out of raids, because my character’s wandered out of range. I actually lost raid passes because of this. GPS drift can also get in the way of doing trades, because our locations are suddenly no longer correct.
In the mean time, we’ve had LOTS of egg-based events. Events that, to properly participate, require you to go outside and walk. Probably too many, despite the fact that many people are facing lock downs still. We’re all supposed to be staying inside and away from other people. There’s no way to delete eggs, there’s no way to clear your egg inventory. So we’re often stuck with eggs we simply can’t use. Sure, Niantic’s done a lot to allow some play during the pandemic, but they’ve also been pushing naughty ideas as well.
So, frankly, if I can hatch one egg once a week using quirks in GPS location, I might as well.