Pokémon Go developers Niantic have been receiving criticism recently for their decision to roll back their COVID-era changes to Pokémon Go. However, after several days of players threatening to boycott the game, it seems that Niantic has decided to listen to its community.
Pokémon Go is an AR game where players hunt down and catch Pokémon. The AR element means that players have to go to specific real-world locations to interact with features like Gyms and Pokéstops. However, with the onset of COVID-19 came the need for people to socially distance themselves. Due to this, Niantic increased the range of Gyms and Pokéstops, allowing players to interact with them provided they were within 80 meters of the location, rather than the 40 meters it had been previously.
However, at the start of August, Niantic announced that they would be reversing this change in New Zealand and America, quoting changing health advice. This upset players who believed that the move was reckless as it encouraged people to crowd together and that, while health advice may have changed, the pandemic is still ongoing. This lead to talks of a boycott with the hashtag #BoycottNiantic trending on social media.
On August 6th, Niantic responded to this uproar by saying it had created a task force to look into the feedback and suggest how it could better handle the situation. This task force’s report was meant to land on September 1st, but it seems that Niantic has decided to move early.
The company took to Twitter and announced that not only will the 80-meter interaction radius be staying, but 80 meters will be the new base interaction radius for the game, making it easier for people to stay distanced as they play.
This change has won over many of the game’s players. Many players expressed happiness on social media, saying that they’re glad the company listened to their demands. It still remains to be seen what else the task force will suggest, but it seems likely that Niantic is very aware that its player base, while dedicated, is still extremely worried about COVID-19 and not afraid to make its voice heard.