After weeks of radio silence concerning Niantic’s “Hello World” update announcement for Pokémon GO and the removal of key pandemic features for Trainers in the US and New Zealand, Niantic has finally responded to the community. This response comes after fans began to boycott Pokémon GO earlier this month as well as sharing their criticisms online via a variety of hashtags (#BoycottNiantic and #HearUsNiantic) and organizing a #PokemonNoGO Day for August 5th.
The statement, which has yet to be tweeted out by the official Pokémon GO account, was shared on Niantic’s blog. You can read the full response below:
To our Pokémon GO community:
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.
Like everyone else around the world, our team has been working very hard to adapt to the global health environment. The recent Exploration Bonus changes we’ve made in the U.S. and New Zealand are designed to restore some of the foundational elements players enjoyed prior to 2020, and reward players once again for moving and exploring. Encouraging people to explore, exercise and safely play together in person remains Niantic’s mission.
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. 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.
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. 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.
Our goal is to build fun and engaging experiences that remain true to our mission, and we thank you for challenging us with thoughtful and constructive feedback.
-The Niantic Team
So, instead of reverting PokéStop distance for Trainers in the US and New Zealand, the Exploration Bonuses and this “test” will continue until September 1st. These facts have already been established from the beginning (it’s still unknown if both will be renewed on September 1st or if previous pandemic features would return), the only difference here is that knowledge of “an internal cross-functional team” that will address community concerns (i.e.: accessibility). Niantic’s statement also ignores the current surge of COVID-19’s Delta variant, which has lead certain states in the US to re-implement rules concerning mask-wearing, COVID-19 testing, and showing proof of vaccination. Not to mention the CDC ranks COVID-19’s Community Transmissions as “High” (Red) for more than half of the US.
Niantic’s response hasn’t quelled fans given that petitions and criticisms started in late June and it’s taken the company almost a month and a half to issue the above statement. In fact, some notable players and content creators (like REVERSAL) have announced they’re quitting the game altogether.
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