The Pokemon Go video game developer, Niantic, has been receiving negative publicity lately due to the fandom’s outcry regarding the company’s handling of COVID-19 related alterations made to the game. Several months after the company made its controversial decision to revert the game to pre-COVID settings, Niantic announced a finalized set of in-game changes and the company’s intentions for the game’s ongoing development.
Niantic has previously addressed the controversy surrounding Pokemon Go, and COVID-19-related in-game alterations, by primarily focusing on the game’s issues highlighted by the gaming community. As per our previous report, the company announced its plans to talk to community leaders, formulate a proper response to the fandom’s outcry, and address the issues accordingly. According to IGN, Niantic came through with their promise and shared their findings and views on the matter with the fans, continuing the ongoing debate regarding in-game features before taking any concrete action.
For those new to the world of Pokemon Go and unaware of the controversy, Niantic previously announced a roll-back on altered in-game mechanics, which were implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The alterations to the game included the reduction of PokeStop and Gym distances, which allowed players to enjoy their favorite game from the safety of their homes. However, it also made the game more accessible to specific demographics, such as people with disabilities who couldn’t otherwise enjoy the game to its fullest extent.
Needless to say, the Pokemon Go community didn’t react well to Niantic’s announcement, and many saw it as a morally wrong decision, taking into account the aforementioned demographics. But that didn’t stop Niantic from issuing the roll-back, aimed primarily at “test countries” New Zealand and the United States. Moreover, given the recurring rise of COVID-19-related cases at the time, many players were upset at the developer and concerned for public safety, prompting them to submit an open letter to Niantic – which the company finally acknowledged and addressed.
The company opted to keep the interaction radius for PokeStops and Gyms at its pre-pandemic settings of 80 meters instead of previously proposed and used 40 meters. However, the company reserved the right to change the distance if public health safety concerns elevate. Niantic also said it intends to roll out seasonal bonuses globally, abandoning its country-by-country practices while maintaining closer contact with players and community leaders. Starting in October, Pokemon Go players will have access to developer diaries that explain the company’s current priorities, events, and potential future courses the game might take. Additionally, the Known Issues page on the Pokemon Go website is being updated to allow greater transparency regarding various errors and bugs in-game.
Conclusively, it would seem that Niantic stayed adamant on reverting the PokeStop and Gym distances to their original settings, leading us to believe that the only issue resolved was the company’s lack of communication with its player base. But we will acknowledge that it’s a significant first step towards appeasing the fans and making Pokemon Go accessible and enjoyable for everyone.