‘Pokémon Go’ Fans Frustrated Over Niantic For Removing COVID-Related Gameplay

Snivy, Tepig and Oshawott in Pokémon GO

Unova Pokémon in Pokémon GO (Nintendo/The Pokémon Company)

As announced in June, Niantic has now rolled back gameplay changes implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. But fans are not happy.

Over the last few months, one of the best pandemic-related changes was the increased distance for players to interact with each other, making the Gyms and PokéStops accessible without in-person engagement. Incense effectiveness was also enhanced in order to compensate for the missing outdoor exploration. To remedy the shrinking supplies from PokéStops, Buddy Pokémon would also bring you more gifts each day.

As some countries began to recover from COVID-19, Niantic announced in June that these beautiful features would come to an end “in the U.S. and New Zealand starting at the end of July.”

On the game’s subreddit, user HorseOnSauce called out the repercussions of pulling back the changes, asking “who is benefitting from the range being reverted,” and stating that the changes “will be a pain for people with disabilities or for players in countries with ongoing Covid restrictions.”

Other players also echoed HorseOnSauce’s viewpoints, with MikeyStealth saying ” Why reduce the range? It isn’t going to make someone burn 10 extra pounds or walk 7 more miles. With delta [rising] in numbers they should have left it.”

High-profile player, Joe Merrick, also voiced his frustration on Twitter. “I’m not going to be putting any money into Pokémon GO For the foreseeable future,” he said. “Niantic have taken a dangerous decision with the PokéStop distance removal during a worsening pandemic, a feature that helped people play safely, or just play… this disregard for the userbase is so bad.”

While Niantic is only rolling the game back to its original state, it doesn’t seem advisable given the rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
Despite the flood of criticism, Niantic hasn’t made any statement regarding its decision.


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