Developer Niantic Labs has officially confirmed that the rumoured Buddy Pokémon feature will be coming to its popular augmented reality mobile game Pokémon Go this fall. Niantic's confirmation follows a flurry of fan speculation after gamers, who data-mined the latest version of the game, found references to a buddy system of sorts set to be added in a future update.
The Buddy Pokémon system will allow trainers to pick and team up with a "buddy" Pokémon to go out on walks, collect extra candy and bond with.
"You will be able to pick your favorite Pokémon from your collection to become your buddy, opening up unique in-game rewards and experiences," the Pokémon Go team wrote in a blog post on 2 August."Buddy Pokémon will appear alongside your Trainer avatar on your profile screen, adding helpful bonuses such as awarding Candy for walking together. You'll also have the ability to change your Buddy Pokémon at any time."
Although the developer has not specified when the update will be released or provide details on how the buddy system will work, it did mention that it is "just around the corner." The studio also added that there would be "a lot more" updates and features coming up as well.
The company's latest feature follows the release of Pokémon Go's new appraisal system - one of the hit game's first major post-launch features - that lets players view the potential strength of the digital critters and see a Pokémon's attack and defense statistics.
Released in early July, the GPS-powered game has captured the attention and hearts of millions of players all over the world, eager to get out and explore their surroundings to capture the beloved pocket monsters.
Besides spawning hundreds of weird and, at times, dangerous anecdotes from players, the smartphone game has proven to be an incredibly successful and profitable venture for Pokémon franchise-owner Nintendo.
Mobile app analysis outlet SensorTower recently reported that the addictive game pulled in over $440m (£330.9m) since its release less than two months ago. The firm also estimated that developer Niantic garnered a net revenue of more than $308m so far, noting that the game has already made more money than some blockbuster summer films this year including Warcraft, Independence Day: Resurgence and The Angry Birds Movie. Although the game is no longer the top-grossing app in some countries, it still manages to draw in over $4m in worldwide net revenue daily.