The calm before the storm: predicting the Gym Rework release date

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We are now roughly 30 hours away before the Pokémon GO Solstice Event starts, launching the first wave of content updates and restarting the Pokémon GO hype once again. We are standing on the precipice of another Pokémon-induced summer phenomena, this time with less crashes and more pure, simple, fun.

In this article, we’re going to focus on only one aspect of the upcoming hype: the release date of Pokémon GO’s new gym system. The gym rework is one of the cornerstones of the game’s future, with Mike Quigley (Niantic) going as far as calling it the second core game loop in Pokémon GO”, right after the capture mechanics.

Before you go any further, be aware that we do not know the exact date when the gym rework will be released, but we strongly believe it will be either the last week of June, or the first week of July 2017, for reasons listed below.

Let’s begin!

What Niantic has to do before they can release the gym rework?

As announced before, Gym Rework is planned to launch soon after the Solstice Event ends. Niantic has managed to keep the entire thing completely under wraps, making it impossible to even vaguely guess how far reaching the update will be and what it will entail.

Niantic has confirmed that in preparation for the rework, Gyms will be disabled and defending Pokémon will be returned to Trainers, but that is not the only thing that they need to do before the new system can be launched. In order to launch the new system, Niantic needs to do the following:

  1. Disable Gyms and return Pokémon to their trainers
  2. Distribute a new client app version containing the gym rework code (0.65 on Android and 1.35.1 on iOS), which takes a few days
  3. Test the new client app
  4. Force the new update on iOS and Android
  5. Re-enable Gyms and activate the new features

What does that mean in terms of days and weeks?

There are two potential timelines for the release:

1. Optimistic – rework releases immediately after the Solstice event ends

The Solstice Event starts on 13th of June and ends on the 20th, covering 5 work days and one weekend. Given how important this update is, we believe that the new 0.65 version will be released during the current week (June 13 – 16), in order to test the update and give the devs enough time for a potential hotfix release.

Following this, we expect the Gyms to be disabled and emptied on or after the 16th of June, as was accidentally leaked in the Italian and Chinese versions of the official Anniversary post.

The gyms should be re-enabled by the time the Solstice Event ends, as it’s unlikely that Niantic will leave the player base with no Gyms and no events. This implies that the 0.65.0 update has already been forced at this point, which sounds like complete madness. Here’s how this timeline would look:

  • 6/13/2017: Solstice event starts
  • 6/13 – 6/16: 0.65.0 released
  • 6/16/2017: Gyms are disabled
  • 6/20/2017: Update forced and gym rework released

2. Realistic – rework releases last week of June / first week of July

As written above, the entire schedule behind the “Optimistic” release sounds too hectic, too risky and too overwhelming to be true.

We propose an alternative release timeline, featuring more relaxed dates and being more in-line with what we’ve learned about Niantic in the past months:

  • 6/13/2017: Solstice event starts
  • 6/20/2017: Solstice event ends
  • 6/20/2017: 0.65.0 released
  • 6/27/2017: Gyms are disabled
  • 6/27 – 7/02: Update forced and gym rework released

Niantic is not known for rushing releases and they are definitely not known for releasing one feature just after another. We believe that Niantic is likely to follow the second Timeline and not the optimistic one, as it’s creates too much stress.

Additionally, we’re not sure that it’s possible to release the new version and guarantee global distribution over such a short period, especially on iOS.

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