Since the launch of Pokémon GO, popularity has obviously waned. Many less informed writers have suggested that this is an indication that the game was already over. More informed writers, and anyone that has ever played a videogame at launch, will tell you that this is what happens with every game after release: its popularity is high when it is new and slows down as other titles premiere.
The same behavior is experienced with every product ever, from technology to t-shirts. The way to offset this, especially in the technology industry, is to refresh the product. Smartphones, tablets and computers do this regularly by releasing a new version of their models, adding new features to make them attractive once again. Software does this by adding new features as well, including in gaming.
This week, Niantic released an update to Pokémon GO, adding some new features that make parts of the game feel new again. The most significant and important addition is the buddy system. Now you can choose one of your Pokémon to follow you around at all times, generating rewards for their loyalty. Those rewards are important and in the form of candies, one of two resources used to train and enhance your Pokémon.
This upgrade is important for two reasons. First, it creates an environment in which you can now upgrade the more rare Pokémon, or ones that are rare in your area. This will become even more essential when the Legendary Pokémon are finally released in the future. Second, and possibly more important, it adds excitement back into the game in the form of adjusted grinding.
This kind of large development this early in the lifecycle of the game indicates to me that Niantic is dedicated to the game and its players. There may have been some missteps early on, but it appears that good things are on the horizon for dedicated players.