Software development company Niantic has announced that it will be changing the way it communicates updates with the Pokémon Go community, following a surge in complaints about recent developments during the pandemic.
In August, Niantic received backlash from Pokémon Go players, with some even threatening to boycott the game. This was due to an announcement that the changes made last year to make the game easier to play while staying at home during the pandemic would be reversed. This included the fact that the 80-metre interaction distance for Pokéstops and Gyms would be reverted to the pre-pandemic distance of 40-metres in the United States and New Zealand.
Now, it has been announced this is no longer the case, and the 80-metre interaction distance is here to stay in every location around the world. This is because Niantic has now realised that making region-specific changes is impractical, unfeasible, and would make game-play unfair depending on where in the world you live. So, going forward, they plan to give the game the same updates across the globe.
The executive producer of the game, Steve Wang, released a statement regarding the situation. “We went through a rough learning experience recently when we had to adjust the game settings for New Zealand quickly in response to their lockdown,” it read. “This experience taught us that we are not going to be able to effectively adjust the experience on a country-by-country basis in real-time.”
The original aim of Pokémon Go was to encourage people to go outdoors and exercise, achieved by placing Pokéstops and Gyms at locations such as parks and monuments, so that players would walk there to get in-game rewards. Wang maintains that venturing into the real world is still an important part of the game, calling it their “top priority”, but that Niantic plan to “develop new ways that motivate and reward Trainers for exploring and exercising in the real world.”
Niantic has also admitted that it “has a lot of room to grow when it comes to communication with [their] players.” The company therefore pledge to update Pokémon Go players every other month, by posting developer diaries to “share the latest priorities, events, and features” of the game, as well as engaging in “regular conversations with community leaders.” The first update will come in October.
Words by Gemma Cockrell
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