Over the past few months, Niantic — makers of Pokémon GO — have been rolling back the changes they made to the game for players affected by the global pandemic (read: all of them). Yesterday, they specifically removed the increased interaction range for various points of interest in the US and New Zealand — the former of which is experiencing a surge in COVID cases.
The pandemic changes to Pokémon GO were focused on safety and accessibility, increasing the distance at which players could interact with PokéStops and gyms, and making sure that players weren't required to leave the house in order to obtain key items like the Pokémon-summoning Incense.
While some of the features, like increased Incense duration and remote battles, will be kept in the game, the removal of many of the other features has drawn the ire of the Pokémon GO community — including some of its biggest names.
Trainers with huge followings, like Leek Duck, ZoëTwoDots, and Brandon Tan took to Twitter to express their discontent through a community-penned letter:
In the letter, the community members voiced their "disappointment" over Niantic's decision to remove the changes, specifically the reduction of the interaction range. According to the letter, the wider interaction radius contributed to a safer, more accessible, and more respectful way to play the game, which didn't require entering dangerous areas, trespassing, or blocking entrances.
"Trainers were given the impression this increased PokéStop interaction radius would be permanent," reads the letter, citing a November 19th blog update:
“Some of these changes will remain implemented for the foreseeable future, such as the ability to raid remotely, changes to the GO Battle League, and the increased distance at which you can spin Photo Discs at Gyms and PokéStops.”
A Change.org petition with over 160,000 signatures calls the increased interaction distance "one of the best changes [Niantic has] ever made, making the game safer to play and more accessible for all," and called for people to boycott the game and the company until Niantic responds. YouTuber ZoëTwoDots and Twitch streamer PkmnMaster Holly joined in the call for a boycott, with the former stating that she wouldn't be spending money in the game until Niantic agreed to keep the COVID changes, and the latter refusing to stream the game.
Furthermore to the issues addressed in the letter, the pandemic is actually not over for a huge section of society. New case surges have been reported in Florida, Iran, Thailand, and Turkey over the past two weeks, and many people have yet to be fully vaccinated. For most players of the game, it's either not possible to play the game as they used to, or it's still very risky.
Unfortunately, some of the boycotting and complaining has been directed at specific developers and community managers, and quite a few of the videos and tweets from the big names in Pokémon GO have asked their followers specifically not to turn their grievances into harassment.
Niantic gave the following statement to Eurogamer:
"As we announced in June, we're introducing new exploration bonuses for players in the US and New Zealand and are removing or changing some of the bonuses introduced last year.
People can check the Today View in game to see which specific bonuses are available to them. We'll continue to monitor health and safety guidance related to outdoor activities."
Have you been disappointed in Niantic's decisions? Are you boycotting the game? Let us know in the comments below.
The covid updates really made the game accessible to a lot more people that dont live in big cities, shame they didn't listen to the community about this
Lol @ angry Jigglypuff pic, that's really cute... I think that I remember that episode from my youth.
Anyways, good for them. Hopefully, this petition/boycott is Super Effective.
This should be a fun comment section.
Yeah, this is basically what I was saying under the last post about the game's changes. Basically all of those benefits were incredible and got me back into the game again.
Grabbing the popcorn, anyone want some? Wash your filthy hands first though.
Bizarrely, the pandemic made the game where you roam about the streets actually better to play. You can’t really go back to what it was before without irritating a lot of people.
Oh boy, last time comments were turned on for a covid topic, people who denied covid was a threat logged on. Can't make that mistake again, lock this thread before they are set loose!
The letter summarizes the legit grievances well. Even ignoring the fact we're still buried in a pandemic, the changes helped encourage safety, more accessibility for those with mobility issues or are housebound due to illness, and help discourage trespassing, wandering into dangerous areas, and accidents. Then there are the folks like yours truly with a form of agoraphobia who tried to avoid crowds even before 2020.
There are thousands of better games to play (cheap, too!) I get that the company is trying to tweak Go for whatever reason, but if you aren't into it, why don't you Go play something you like?
The COVID changes made the game better. Not just for accessibility, but even for people who were playing it outside. It really doesn’t make sense.
@Heavyarms55 Dude, it's not the same as the problems that people have with the main game. Many of these points are about accessibility for people as well as safety. They are simply quality of life upgrades that, regardless of the pandemic, seemed to make the game more viable for more people.
Also content creators might not speak for everyone, but they do represent their communities and some have hundreds of thousands/millions of subscribers. I'm not a fan of them, but they clearly have a voice and most of them are in touch with the people following them as the content is usually based on feedback.
I'll say this again: for a lot of people, the COVID features in Pokémon Go were the first time they could really enjoy the game. Disabled people who are housebound or who otherwise can't walk/travel regularly have been able to participate! But honestly, it was more accessible for everyone really. Niantic, however, seems to see accessibility as a negative.
I conform. I am part of the crowd. I am furious about these changes. Remember, you must be too. This choice by Niantic is an outrage. If you think otherwise, clearly you're just a stupid fanboy. Conform to the outrage culture or be prepared.
I don't really care. It's not worth debating. I don't know why I even bothered commenting in the first place.
@Heavyarms55 I'm not even suggesting to boycott the game or not, I'm saying that said points are valid. Also, dude, not every developer pays attention to feedback but thinking that it's almost impossible is quite a stretch.
About your other comment, no one has called you a fanboy or insulted you in any way. You certainly seem to defend everything Pokemon as if they can't do no wrong, but that's up to you and I won't insult you for it. All I know is that people tend to go to extremes and lack empathy to understand that not every situation is like the one they have (these changes made the game finally accesible for people I know, I don't even play myself) and that you don't have to love or hate everything. I honestly don't get your overreaction.
Also, if people do enjoy the game but aren't simply happy with these changes, why shouldn't they try to communicate it? They want to keep playing hence why they want to keep these changes, it makes no sense to do the opposite.
I have yet to read what the features were, but it sounds like it let you play from inside your house, or connect to people waaay more far away from you, to both I say, why the hell would you remove that?
I admire the passion and agree with their stance, but I don't understand the belief that a boycott will effect any change in Niantic's thinking. Pokemon Go just passed $5 billion in gross revenue, how much of that do you think came directly from these influencers or the people who signed the petition? They of course contributed, but Niantic's primary focus has been and forever will be the most significant part of their audience, which is the millions of casual players who are completely oblivious to this 'issue'.
My point being, Niantic clearly wants this game to be one that requires you to go out to play, and their main audience probably wants that, too.
@SwitchVogel This isn't like Brexit, where the casual player might not even notice half of the existing content from previous generations missing because they only care about the keys jangling in front of them. This isn't just the loud minority of longtime passionate fans.
These changes absolutely effect the majority of people who boot up GO at all, no matter where they lie on the casual/hardcore spectrum.
And as others have said, these changes in many ways inhibits the community from being more active instead of encouraging it. I find myself playing less and less over the past week because it is now more of a challenge for me to get to Pokestops and gyms that were once not too big of a deal. It makes it harder for me to collect resources needed to catch 'em all, so I'm often left with nothing to do. So I just stop playing. More than some of the various bugs I'd like to see fixed, this is how Niantic keeps me from investing more time and potential disposable income into the game.
@BloodNinja Or maybe we are into it, and we would like for the game's developer to revert back to certain QoL that made the game better? I know this may sound crazy, but every once in a while a passionate fanbase may actually have valid points.
How about instead of telling other people what to like and how to spend their time, you actually make better use of your time by playing one of those thousands of better games?
@burninmylight I’m not the one losing sleep over Pokémon Go.
You’re certainly wasting time provoking people about something they care about though?
I was going to delete my account last week because I was getting bored with it but then was too lazy to go through with it. lol
I guess now I have an excuse. I can say I'm doing it out of protest rather than boredom.
@EliteXeos It's not a provocation. It's a suggestion to do something else with one's time, instead of trying to force an entire corporation to bend to your will.
The Pokémon Company should've reviewed this before allowing Niantic to release this. After all, The Pokémon Company and Nintendo did back out of the Olympics, the one event that was criticized for COVID in the first place! It's one or the other, Pokémon Company, not both!
@Snatcher the only thing the community asks is to have increased pokestop spin distance, which is 80 meters instead of the former 40 meters.
You still have to walk, you just don’t have to cross the street anymore. And you don’t have to trespass or go up that one hill anymore.
The other bonuses some people would like to keep are increased damage when being invited to raids remotely (so you do the same damage as players standing next to the gym and so you’re not a ‘burden’) and incense effectiveness so you do not per se have to walk for pokemon to spawn.
The changes are so minimal and feel like they’re just quality of life changes. So i also don’t get why Niantic just leaves the bonuses in the game. Sure, Niantic wants you to ‘go’ again but you still had to ‘go’ anyway. The changes were just very minimal quality of life changes, not game-breaking or anything.
@bloodninja There is no other game in the world quite like Pokemon Go.
@Friendly Oh, I totally get why people are mad.
They are removing pandemic safety and gameplay measures.. while we are still deep in a pandemic?
Probably a weird time to remove them, although expected eventually, when every country is looking at shutting down entirely again.
Like so many others, Niantic seems to believe that if we all ignore CoViD, it will just go away, like Queen Mab in the Merlin series.
The fact that people are still playing this game (and spending money on it) makes me weep for gaming, as a whole.
@BloodNinja Welcome to the comments section of Nintendolife.com.
@BloodNinja Nope, you're just losing sleep over the people playing it. Every time there's a new GO article posted, you and people like HeavyArms55 can be relied upon to come in and trash talk the minority of the fanbase that dares to express some passion about the game, then tell folks to play different games just for having criticisms of it, most of which are valid.
Between that and your comments on the article about inclusion in Nintendo games, it's pretty clear that anything that isn't NINJA APPROVED isn't welcome here.
@Purgatorium Hahaha, I’ve already taken my lumps!!
@burninmylight Fairly inaccurate read of me, not terribly entertaining my dear, was there some point you had in mind? Like I said, I’m not up protesting with petitions and letters to corporations, just because they made some mildly arbitrary change to a game. Wasn’t the game like this before the covid restrictions? When it was in its normal state was everyone “getting passionate” about it?
@BloodNinja Was there some point you had in mind? Like, every time you tell people to play a better game, how often do you recommend games that you consider better? Maybe you could try and share some better games that offer similar gameplay, hmm? Seems much more constructive than telling others that their games suck because you personally don't like them, but hating things that don't appeal to your personal interests is kind of your thing.
Yes, the game was like this before Covid restrictions. Doesn't change the fact that it became a better game because of the QoL implementations due to Covid, and it got more people playing because of it, as evidenced by the fact that the game just had it's most successful year ever from an income standpoint. It's not "some arbitrary change to a game" either: it literally enabled people who found it difficult to play before into being able to keep up with the rest and take full advantage of gameplay and events. You might know that if you actually bothered to read the content in the article instead of skipping straight to the comment section so you can leave one of the earliest comments and feel heard.
@Purgatorium Yep, welcome to the comments section, where troubled little boys love to exercise their free speech, but get their feelings hurt when someone else exercises that same free speech to criticize their free speech.
You'll do just fine here.
Removed - trolling
@BloodNinja Not pouting over a game, honey lamb. But how much more childish does it seem to pout over a fanbase? I can only imagine what folks like you will do once you realize that a multi-billion dollar enterprise won't be going anywhere for a long, long time!
The people who are unhappy with the situation regarding the rollback of said changes have explained why they are unhappy in great detail as shown by the letter in the article.
if you feel like they should not be unhappy then it would be best to counter the points they made rather than misrepresenting and dismissing their arguments.
Removed - disrespecting others
lol good luck
@BloodNinja I've already let you know what you can do for me, boo. Recommend some better games of a similar ilk, since you've made it your life's work to get people to play other games. If I didn't like Mario Party or Mario Kart, I'd tell people about Dokapon Kingdom or Sonic All-Star Racing instead of pointing and laughing at them from behind my keyboard and online persona. Now I'm starting to see why you like pretending to be a ninja edgelord - you like to hide behind the anonymity that the Internet provides you to act out your bad little behavioral impulses.
@Mgalens We're both talking to angry little brick walls that get off on pointing and laughing at faceless people on the Internet to feel better about themselves. They do the same thing in every single Pokemon article.
@burninmylight I don’t know what you like, so I can’t really do blind recommendations. Is talking to you, specifically, bad behavior?
@BloodNinja You probably won't see my reply as you said that you would put me on the ignore list for addressing a similar issue that burningmylight is having with you (in the shiny hunting discussion), but I'll still write this:
You need to me more congruent with that you do and how you claim to be. People perceive you as mocking and trolling on articles like this because:
1. You already said that you have no interest in this. For some reason, you have trouble understanding that it's insulting to talk about "better games" on games that you don't like instead of understanding something as simple as "different strokes for different folks". People clearly enjoy and want to keep playing this game and give feedback to improve it.
2. You are talking about people overreacting and you are acting as if they won't play anything else, but no one here has said anything even close to that. Asking people what would they do when the servers close as if they had nothing better going on with their lives is a clear example of this and it clearly shows that you are trying to provoke.
3. I don't think that they want the company to bend their knee at their will or anything and they are probably aware that this might be for nothing, but there's nothing wrong in trying to communicate with the devs instead of giving up on a game that they like. I'm pretty sure that no one or at least the majority isn't losing sleep over this, but it doesn't change that they care enough to try something to see if they accomplish a positive change.
4. This article and discussion happened before said article of Niantic addressing this, and it doesn't change any of the points mentioned in the article and discussion.
Please, notice that I have nothing against you. Last time you took it personal and started with personal attacks. I honestly have seen you debate with much better points and more respect in other articles. This is just my perspective, but you seem to take this approach with stuff that you don't like and it's ok not to like it, but it's clear that you aren't being constructive.
Removed - disrespecting others
My thoughts: get over it. I noticed the differences, and I can't spin my local Pokestop from my bed anymore either. Boo hoo! Just get up and go outside. It's good for you. That is the whole point of the game afterall. Boycotting to me seems silly, but so do most things these days ¯(ツ)/¯. There are vaccines and masks available for people who are that concerned about getting covid while outside, and if not I suggest playing literally any other videogame in the comfort of your home.
@Mgalens It's just the general thing with this community. There's always some outrage. Something to be angry at. If it weren't this, it would be something else and people would rage at that. This is a community that went ballistic online because of lousy tree textures. There's just always something.
Feels like its the case with big fandoms especially ones of a franchise which has been going on for so long. The FF series fanbase definitely had this phase during the whole FFXIII saga and the troubled development of FFXV.
though with bad tree its nice to see that the pokemon community finally has its own "low poly dog" (a dog from lightning returns final fantasy XIII)
though the situation definitely does vary, for example while i definitely agreed with a lot of the criticism towards SwSh i definitely didnt agree with that vocal group harrassing the devs/social media team. The case here at least i feel like the fans are being constructive with the letter and all.
for people that enjoyed SwSh, i say more power to them, nothing wrong with enjoying their time with it, even with the issues i had i would still say i enjoyed my time with it (did feel like it could have benefited from some extra dev time) liking the game doesn't make them "shills" in the same way i feel criticizing it doesn't make people "entitled" as long as either side isnt outright disrespecting others.
then again considering how well ORAS seems to be received there's always a chance that one game will come out and bring most of the fans together.
i apologise if this ended up being rambling.
I haven't played it for a very long time but this sounds like a bad move. In fact, I wish the "pandemic changes" were around when I had the game as standard. Then again, it was good to have a game that made you get up and go outside
@burninmylight I was more referring to the complaint we were wasting our time here trying to "force a corporation bend to our will." That's like 50% of the comments here. It's surprising to see a frequent poster complain about that.
I don't think anyone here believes complaining in the comments will actually get a developer to do what we want. We're all just venting.
@Goat_FromBOTW: As of March, COVID-19 has in one year become the 3rd leading cause of death in the US, and by a huge margin - approximately thrice as fatal as the 4th leading cause and set to outpace actual cancer deaths (the 2nd leading cause) this year. The regular every-year flu is estimated to cause between 300K and 600K deaths worldwide while COVID-19 is surging past 500K deaths in the US alone and has hit 4.27 million deaths worldwide. Do with these numbers what you will, I think I just got stuck on the part where you said, "it's basically a cold." In any case, glad you and your family are okay, cheers and take care.
@Heavyarms55: I typically appreciate your even-handedness when the Pokémon community gets a bee in its bonnet. Same here, though I think you've gone too far off to one side to make sarcastic jokes about being forced into conformity. The nice thing about being thoughtful and deliberative is that you retain the ability to distinguish between media sensationalism, attention-seeking whiners, and reasoned criticism. To use your example, the reaction to blurry trees in the Wild Area and the reaction to global pandemic safety measures ending are - in my measured opinion - two different scales of issue. Chide the complainants too glibly and you risk drawing a false equivalency that tarnishes your own credibility.
@Goat_FromBOTW Not to get too severe into this but I have had people close to me die from covid, and didn't have underlying illnesses and what-not. Not everyone just 'recovers'. I'm happy that those close to you have recovered well without problems.
@Goat_FromBOTW Don't worry about it. I didn't take malice from your comment. We are in a precarious situation in trying to have the right amount of concern and right amount of sanity not to overly fear it.
I haven't played the game in months because here in my small town we don't have many pokestops and rarely encounter pokemon on average I'm lucky to come across 1-3 a day plus it's 110-118 outside.
@Purgatorium I sincerely apologize for misinterpreting your comment. My bad on that one.
@burninmylight All good.
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