‘Pokémon Go’ Publisher Addresses Criticism Gameplay Changes During COVID Pandemic

Pokémon GO (Image: Pokemon)

Pokémon GO (Image: Pokemon)

Niantic, the publisher of Pokémon Go, has issued a response regarding the termination of COVID-related features implemented in the U.S. and New Zealand, which led to an online boycott from players.

As announced in June, Niantic planned to withdraw pandemic-related features at the end of July. Players would not be able to experience enhanced accessibility of the gyms and PokéStops and increased incense effectiveness in the U.S. and New Zealand.

Considering the recent spike of COVID cases in the U.S., this change didn’t go well as planned. The game’s users argued that this decision showed disregard for players’ health and safety. To show frustration, players started the #BoycottNiantic trend on Twitter, urging Niantic to reconsider their decision

Kratos TL50, one of the initiators of the boycott, wrote, “If you don’t agree with how Niantic is handling the situation, I encourage you to do the same.”

The effects of the boycott have become visible. As Antonio Dominguez, another avid Pokémon Go fan, reported, “Player drop off is real. People that have put thousands into the game, have just stopped playing.”

In response to the ongoing outrage, Niantic released a statement promising a revisit of the previous decision.

“We appreciate your letter and all of your feedback. We hear you. We are humbled by your response. Not every game has such a passionate, global player base that we’re fortunate enough to have,” a Niantic blog stated. “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,” the statement concluded.

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