Niantic, the studio behind Pokémon Go, has responded to player criticism and threats of a boycott after proposed changes to some of the game’s rules in the USA and New Zealand did not go down very well.
Niantic recently removed the social distancing feature from the game, meaning players have to get closer to spin the Pokéstops or battle in Gyms. The smaller radius means people need to congregate closer together, with some players saying they have to get even closer than pre-pandemic. As cases rise across the U.S. and vaccinated people are being told to mask up, the removal of this feature seems oblivious to reality. Maybe things are better in Galar? Hope so!
Many fans feel like Niantic isn’t listening to them, thus forcing this boycott. When Niantic announced the fancy new monsters on Twitter yesterday, players used the hashtag #BoycottNiantic to show their displeasure.
In response, Niantic has explained that the rule changes have only been introduced in New Zealand and the US given the current health advice in those countries. In New Zealand, where there practically is no Covid, that’s fine, but in the US, as we’ve explained, things are not as fine as they could be.
The volume of player criticism has thus forced a rethink of these social distancing plans, and Niantic now says that they’re forming a “task force” to look at rule changes going forwards that consider the feelings of the game’s playerbase, and not just standard health advice:
We have heard your feedback about one change in particular - that of the PokéStop and Gym interaction distance. We reverted the interaction distance from 80 meters back to the original 40 meters starting in the U.S. and New Zealand because we want people to connect to real places in the real world, and to visit places that are worth exploring.
However, we have heard your input loud and clear and so to address the concerns you have raised, we are taking the following actions: We are assembling an internal cross-functional team to develop proposals designed to preserve our mission of inspiring people to explore the world together, while also addressing specific concerns that have been raised regarding interaction distance. We will share the findings of this task force by the next in game season change (September 1). As part of this process, we will also be reaching out to community leaders in the coming days to join us in this dialogue.
You can read Niantic’s full statement here.