Pokemon Go Scraps Cheap Remote Raid Passes

Pokemon Go is ending its nearly free Remote Raid Pass perk, ending a nearly two-year distribution of the passes. Pokemon Go announced that it would no longer include a single Remote Raid Pass in its weekly 1 PokeCoin box of items available to players on the Pokemon Go in-game store. Instead, a "rotating array" of items will be included in the Raid Pass's place. The Remote Raid Passes will be removed starting with next week's box of items. 

These Remote Raid Passes were originally included in the box as part of Niantic's shift to remote play during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pokemon Go has slowly rolled back various bonuses intended to encourage remote play over time, in part because Niantic places a premium on in-person play and community connectivity. During their announcement of the removal of the Remote Raid Passes, Pokemon Go specifically cited the desire for players to return to in-person play, stating that the company was "excited to get back to playing together in person." The rollbacks have not been popular with many fans and Niantic eventually made the extended object interaction distance added during the pandemic a permanent feature in the game. 

In a subsequent email interview with Polygon, Pokemon Go game director Michael Steranka further elaborated on their desire to push players back to in-person play, and stated that the (nearly) free Remote Raid Passes were seen as a detriment towards that goal. "Our goal is to shift the balance back towards the fun of raiding together in-person again," Steranka said. "Sales and discounts are really powerful ways to indicate to Trainers what types of game loops they should be focused on at any given moment."

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However, Steranka did state that Pokemon Go was not getting rid of remote raids, noting that they were a convenient way to play. "This doesn't mean that remote raiding as an option is going away, as we recognize the convenience that it brings to players," Steranka said. "Our intent is to bring back the joy that can only be experienced in person, like when you caught your first Lugia at a gym in person with your friends."