A representative from Niantic has responded to frequent complaints about the disparity of play between rural and urban players in Pokemon Go.
In a recent thread on Reddit, Niantic's community liaison acknowledged criticism that Pokemon Go's in-game raids were impossible to play in rural areas and said that Niantic was actively working on ways to make the game a better experience for players.
"We are working on mechanisms to make it easier for players to come together for Raid Battles," the representative wrote. "It's too soon to share the details about this but know that improvements will be made over several app updates."
Many players feel that Pokemon Go is unfairly skewed towards urban settings, as there tends to be higher spawn rates and more gyms and PokeStops in densely populated areas. While many cities have Facebook groups or Discord servers to organize raids, many rural communities don't have enough Pokemon Go players living in their area to make those resources effective.
The representative also responded to criticism that Niantic doesn't "care" about rural players. "I do disagree with the statement that Niantic doesn't care about rural players," they wrote. "We've made some big improvements: OPR has drastically improved access for rural players, adding sponsored locations has improved access with a varying level of impact to rural players (we know we need sponsors in more places), adding the ability to get items from Gyms has helped address the no Poké Ball issue that plagued rural players, increasing the number of Gyms so more areas have access to battle, and making changes to balance Pokémon distribution."
OPR is a system set up in Niantic's other game Ingress that allows players to submit potential sites for new portals, which then get carried over into Pokemon Go as new PokeStops and gyms.
The representative also said that Niantic was actively working on improving the experience for players. "This is not to say that our work here is done," they added. "It's quite the opposite. I cannot stress enough that we still have lots and lots of work to do here. As frustrating as the situation is, I would urge you not to treat the absence of an immediate solution as an absence of our commitment to this issue. Things will get better."
While no immediate solution is on the way, it's interesting to see Niantic make an official comment about the state of rural play in Pokemon Go and acknowledge that they're looking to make the game better for rural players.