Pokémon Go celebrates third anniversary by encouraging new players to catch up

Augmented reality monster catching game Pokémon Go celebrates its third anniversary with a bevy of new versions of Pokémon and player outfits while also making sure new players get a chance to catch up.

The new features, which kick in starting June 29 at 5am local time, include shiny versions of Alolan Pokémon, avatar outfits of team leaders – Candela, Blanche, and Spark – and a new Special Research quest that promises to help players jump start their adventures, which is open to players above level 10.

Shiny versions are alternate colour schemes for Pokémon and will be rolled out for Rattata, Sandshrew, Vulpix, Diglett, Meowth, Geodude, Grimer and Exeggutor.

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"They say third time’s the charm. Pokémon journeys begin with a choice between three Pokémon. Your journey in Pokémon Go involved joining one of three teams. Today, we celebrate the third anniversary of Pokémon Go’s release," said game maker Niantic in a blog post.

Players will have a once-a-day chance to encounter a Pikachu wearing a party hat when you take a Go Snapshot photo. For the camera shy, party hat-wearing Pichu will also be available to hatch from 7km eggs until Sept 3.

Other perks include getting more Premier Balls for more chances to catch Raid Bosses as a reward for defeating the boss faster and a 25% discount on the Stardust costs for trading Pokémon.

Raid battles are special challenges that require groups of players to work together to defeat a boss Pokémon, to earn the chance to catch the rare creature.

This weekend, players will also be given up to five free Raid Passes to take part in a raids to challenge Electric-type legendary Pokémon Raikou. The event takes place from 4pm to 7pm local time on Saturday, June 29. Lucky players may even encounter a shiny Raikou.

For Niantic fans who have already moved on to their latest AR game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the company appears to be planning for its first community festival in Indianapolis, Indiana, in the United States.

Techcrunch reports that the event will occur over the American Labour Day weekend, from Aug 31 to Sept 1.

As with the Pokémon Go Fest events, players will need a ticket to participate in the Harry Potter festival. Though pricing on the tickets have not been announced, Niantic's current plan is to open up ticket sales via a lottery.

Techcrunch notes that these events are an opportunity for Niantic to bring their hardcore fans together, with tens of thousands of players taking part in previous Pokémon festivals in order to be the first to get rare or new creatures, like the mythic Pokémon Celebi, a full month ahead of other players back in 2018.