Pokemon Go Creators Respond to Backlash Over Recent Changes

Pokemon Go creator Niantic announced in June that it would be reverting some of the beneficial [...]

Pokemon Go creator Niantic announced in June that it would be reverting some of the beneficial changes made during the coronavirus pandemic. These changes led to benefits for players including the ability to spin a PokeStop from a further distance, so naturally, players are upset to see them removed. Frustrations heightened as players called for others to boycott the game. Niantic has since responded to that campaign by saying it hears the community loud and clear and will be assessing the issue at hand with more information to be shared in the future.

The positive changes were reverted at the start of August with Niantic's response shared on Friday following a week of anti-Pokemon Go sentiments on social media. "Exploration Bonuses" – the benefits focused on going outside in playing that Niantic previously said it'd be swapping in while the at-home benefits were removed – were intended to encourage people to "explore, exercise, and safely play together," Niantic said in its post. The developer did say it remains open to making additional changes if necessary.

"The health and wellbeing of players is our top priority, which is why we have implemented the new Exploration Bonuses in select geographies where it is deemed safe to be outdoors," Niantic said. "Research has shown that taking walks outside is safe and confers several health benefits. Furthermore, encouraging outdoor exploration is in keeping with Niantic's mission. That said, we will continue to monitor health and safety guidance related to outdoor activities, and will make future changes if necessary."

Furthermore, Niantic said it'll be looking into the matter faster with a task force being assembled to tackle the issue. It seems the most natural solution would be to undo the changes that were undone and let people continue benefitting from at-home bonuses, but we'll have to wait until September to see what the task force deems necessary.

"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," Niantic said. "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."