Pokemon GO developer Niantic has been having fun with the game’s updates lately. To celebrate April Fools’ Day, the developer gave Pokemon GO an 8-bit graphics makeover, for example, and the developer recently held an egg hatching event that added new Pokemon to hatch from 2KM eggs. But it seems that the developer isn’t just focused on fun, with the next Pokemon GO event promoting both entertainment and education.
Today, Niantic and gaming-for-food organization Playmob announced that they are teaming up to hold the first ever Pokemon GO Earth Day event. The Pokemon GO Earth Day Clean Up event will take place on April 22 and is described as “a series of events that will take place across locations around the world.” This is in accordance with the principles of Earth Day, which is held globally each year to celebrate the birth of the modern environmental movement in the 1970s.
These events will be hosted by Niantic and local non-governmental organizations, the developer explains, and players will “focus on gathering garbage and debris in public spaces that require significant work.” Pokemon GO players who take part will unlock an Earth Day avatar and there will be in-game rewards to unlock for everyone, including double Stardust for Ground, Water, and Grass-type Pokemon for 48 hours if 1,500 players take part, or triple Stardust for those Pokemon types if 3,000 players take part.
The Pokemon GO Earth Day Clean Up won’t just raise awareness, though, as Niantic also says that players will be able to donate to Mission Blue Foundation during the event. Mission Blue Foundation is described as “a global coalition united to inspire public awareness, access and support for a worldwide network of marine protected areas” meaning that the clean up event can have a lasting impact beyond Earth Day.
Pokemon GO has gotten in hot water in the past as a result of its negative effects on the environment and on local areas in general. For example, the game was forced to get a permit in a Milwaukee County park partly over concerns about players leaving litter in the area and the situation resulted in a lawsuit (which ruled in Pokemon GO‘s favor).
Moreover, Pokemon GO was banned from sand dunes last month because player activity in the area was a threat to endangered species in the area. These reports would suggest that some Pokemon GO players at least have little regard for the environment, but perhaps this Earth Day event will get those same players to consider it a bit more.
Pokemon GO is available on Android and iOS devices.