Niantic sure loves its secrecy. Players of Pokémon Go have long lamented the developer's reclusiveness when it comes to announcing updates, which can mean everything from a developer's mysterious comment at the DICE awards that still hasn't borne fruit (as far as we know), to their latest event, the Water Festival, which was announced day-of. One of the biggest mysteries of Pokémon Go is the possibility of a proximity trading update, which fans are hopeful might be one of several big update updates teased for 2017.
However, we haven't heard anything more about it since senior product manager Tatsuo Nomura mentioned it in an interview with Polygon at the beginning of the month. Why haven't we heard more about the implementation of this mechanic, which has been a staple of the main series since the original games.
When is Pokémon Go trading happening? Fix GPS spoofing first
Although it seems antithetical in a game that's all about movement and interacting with the word, GPS spoofing remains a huge problem for Niantic and has been since the game's implementation. Since spoofing allows you to set your location as whatever you want (though incredibly suspicious movements might still get you banned), you'd immediately have a leg up on anyone who's trying to utilize proximity trading the way it's intended.
This would exacerbate the inequality between players who spoof and players who don't, since spoofers would be able to get more powerful Pokémon more quickly through trading than other players will.
Until Niantic has a strong deterrent for GPS Spoofing or a more effective way of banning those who do it, it's likely going to be a huge hurdle to their ability to implement trading, which might be why we're not seeing anything about it.
When is Pokémon Go trading happening? We need a trading economy first
Another huge hurdle for Pokémon Go's trading update will be incentivizing it enough so that it becomes a core mechanic and not just a flash in the pan. With the introduction of golden Magikarp and red Gyarados during the Water Festival, some fans think that Niantic is keeping proximity trading in reserve until after they release more shiny Pokémon into the game, creating a trading economy based on the comparative rarity of shiny Pokémon.
It's much more likely that the trading economy will come as a result of CEO John Hanke's hinted-at gym update, which might put a greater emphasis on trading with fellow players in order to take on a gym's specific weakness.
Overall, either of these would provide a logical reason for Niantic to keep mum about proximity trading, since they'd still be (at least) one major update away from trying to implement it. If the company were to implement trading before either of these major updates, what you'd probably see would be a big flurry of activity as people rush to fill out their Pokédexes, followed by a pretty sharp decline as everyone gets the Pokémon they're missing — or the people with easier access to rare Pokémon simply stop wanting to trade with the people who still need them.
When is Pokémon Go trading happening? Niantic could surprise us
Although this potentiality is the least exciting to speculate about, it's the most in-keeping with what we know about Niantic. It doesn't take long for any post on the Silph Road about an upcoming event or new mechanic that doesn't include someone posting in mock-surprise that Niantic is being cagey about an update.
This non-communication is such a part of Niantic's character that when the company announced golden Magikarp and red Gyarados were permanently in the game post-Water Festival, most posters on The Silph Road were more surprised that Niantic had announced an event's end than they were about shiny Pokémon.
All this aside, Niantic probably has good reason for keeping its cards close to the chest where this update is concerned. Even Nomura admitted that it has the potential to kill the game if it's poorly implemented. But rest assured, as soon as more information surfaces about the trading update, we'll be at the forefront, telling you everything we know.
More Pokémon Go guides, tips, tricks and updates
Check out Mic's Pokémon Go tips and tricks. Here are guides on how to get stardust, how to determine how long it will take you to reach level 40, the kind of Pokemon you get from 10-kilometer eggs, how to create new PokéStops, how to maximize your chances of catching Pokémon and how PokéStops distribute Pokémon eggs. Also check out how to catch Gen 2 baby Pokémon, our analysis of post-balance update Chansey and Rhydon and everything you need to know about finding the long-awaited Pokémon Ditto.