Pokemon GO fans are up at arms after developer Niantic’s recent announcements. Niantic announced on June 21st they will be removing some pandemic changes they put in to let players keep their distance. The changes benefited both the company and the players. Disgruntled players argue reverting changes is too soon and should be permanent.
The changes were welcomed by all when originally announced. Typically players would head to local PokeStops to claim prizes, catch Pokemon in the wild, and battle it out at gyms and raids. When quarantine life became our reality, venturing out was not an option. Niantic stepped up and made the game easier to use at a distance. Here are some changes that will be removed soon:
- Incense effectiveness boosted, bringing in more Pokemon. It will now be reverted but more effective if the player is moving.
- PokeStops and Gyms distances will return to the previous radius. They increased this originally so players could be farther from the PokeStops and still engage them.
- Decrease the number of gifts a player can receive from Buddy Pokemon.
These changes helped players stay connected and continue to play while staying safe. There were many other benefits as a side effect. Players with disabilities could join in on the fun. Mobility limitations keep these players from long walks and often stuck at home. Many rural players have to drive into town for PokeStops, with very few in the vicinity. Now those limited stops are more prominent. In general, all players expressed enjoying these bigger PokeStops and played the game more. Niantic made more in 2020 than in 2019 during a debilitating pandemic.
Fans want these changes to stay permanent. They voice their opinions both on Twitter and through three Change.org petitions. Twitter is full of people accounting how the changes have benefited them, concern over the timing due to slow vaccinations, and complaints about Niantic business practices. Change.org petitions have amassed roughly 75,000 signatures. They explain how the changes make the game “safer to play and more accessible for all. ” A must-read blog post from fansite, PokeJungle.net, argues the case in great detail. The fanbase is vocal, but it lands on deaf ears.
Niantic is not responding to their players. Their Twitter timeline completely ignores the pleas, and their blog just advertises future events. Pokemon Go generated nearly $2 billion in 2020, more than double their 2019 earnings. Niantic has made a great deal from the pandemic changes but still wants to revert to the 2019 version of the game. Players’ frustrations are exasperated as they feel ignored by a company made wealthy from fan purchases.
Niantic MUST respond to the players. If they do not at least respond, with either support or denial, then players will go over their heads. Niantic is nothing without their IPs. Pokemon is why players are here, not some small developer. Other Niantic projects, like Harry Potter, have flopped in comparison. Players are starting to plea to Pokemon directly. The Pokemon Company is a much bigger company and already has other Pokemon apps being developed in-house. If the noise of complaints rises louder, Pokemon may consume Niantic to control the situation. Then Niantic will be the ignored.