Even though you probably quit playing Pokémon Go a while ago, thousands of people still “catch ‘em all” in cities across the U.S. And you might soon see a slight uptick of players where you live, because developer Niantic is (finally) adding Pokémon trading to the game, only two years after its release.
Starting this week, you can add friends on Pokémon Go, see their activity on a news feed and, most importantly, exchange Pokémon and certain items with nearby players. However, there are a few limitations.
At the moment, only those level 30 and above are able to access social features within Pokémon Go, though it appears the barrier to entry is lowering as time goes on (previously the required level was 40, then 38).
The friends feature has been rolled out to everybody, but Niantic notes that trainers are required to hit level 10 before gaining the ability to trade.
When it comes to rarer Pokémon, there are more rules to keep in mind. Certain Pokémon require a special trade (e.g. rare shiny creatures like Gold Magikarp or legendaries like Mewtwo), which costs players a lot of stardust and can only be completed with a Great Friend or Best Friend (a player you’ve participated in many gym battles or raids alongside). While a regular trade may cost 100 stardust, a special trade could cost 1,000,000. The higher your friendship level with others, the cheaper your trading costs will be.
Then there are the nitty-gritty details: Traditionally, a traded Pokémon remains the same level it was when sent. In Pokémon Go, as shown in the Pikachu example below, the Pokémon may come out on the other side with fewer hit points (HP), combat power (CP) or both. The game will give you a range of stats to give you an idea of how your must-have creature will look post-trade. However, there’s no way to end up with a better Pokémon than you put in—all you can hope for is one that doesn’t drop any stats once it jumps over to your collection.
The fact that Gifts are the only items that can be traded with friends is a downside, as well. You also have to be near the friend in real life, meaning you shouldn’t expect to trade online with a friend halfway around the world (unless you spoof your location).