What you need to know
- Niantic made changes to Pokémon GO at the start of the pandemic to increase accessibility.
- After over a year with these changes in place, Niantic has made the decision to roll some changes back.
- Players are criticizing Niantic, boycotting the game and sending an open letter to the company.
Niantic, the developers of the popular mobile game Pokémon GO, made some changes to the game after the pandemic started affecting more countries. These changes included remote Gym Raids and doubling the access radius to Pokéstops, to encourage players to keep their distance from others and prevent disease spread. Players were encouraged to participate in events from home, above all the annual Pokémon GO Fest 2021. Many players welcomed the changes, as it made playing the game less of a hassle and allowed users to dedicate less time and attention to the game while getting all the rewards they did before. It also greatly benefitted players living in rural areas.
However, Niantic recently announced that they would be rolling back certain changes to the game in select countries, namely reducing the access radius to Gyms and Pokéstops. This is happening in spite of a new viral mutation, the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, running rampant in several countries. Needless to say, Niantic faced a lot of backlash about the decision, with players citing a disconnect between executive decisions and the needs of players.
Joe Merrick, the man behind Serebii.net, one of the largest sources for Pokémon news and guides, posted a tweet with a message for Niantic to consider rolling back the changes they made, making note of the impacts that these changes on things like player safety and accessibility.
"We request the increased interaction radius remains a permanent quality of life change in Pokémon GO," the letter reads. "We understand changes like this take time to discuss internally, and therefore look forward to your reply by COB Monday 9th August 2021."
The letter is signed by "The Pokémon GO Community", with many prominent creators and players supporting it. There's no telling whether Niantic will listen, but it may be in their best interest to keep the players of a game regarded as one of the best iPhone games satisfied.