In what’s been a rather heated battle between Niantic and the Pokémon GO community since June, a major “pandemic feature” is now returning for US players. Even better, it looks like it’ll be a permanent feature (despite the fact that it was listed as one in 2020). That’s right, PokéStop and Gym interaction distance has been reverted to 80 meters (about 262.5 feet).
Niantic made the announcement today via the official Pokémon GO Twitter account.
Thank you to everyone who made your voices heard. We’ve heard you and understand that this has been a welcome benefit to many players. We’ll share more next week. (2/2)
— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) August 25, 2021
The much welcome change comes after months of petitioning Niantic to keep the features in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the new surge of cases due to the Delta variant, no matter that the removal would be a “test”. For Trainers in the US and New Zealand, this “test” went ahead on August 1st. This test was to remove three major features that were put into place in response to the initial COVID-19 breakout in early 2020: reverted PokéStop and Gym interaction distance, reverted Incense effectiveness, and the frequency and number of items in gifts given by your Buddy Pokémon. A new set of “Explorer Bonuses” instead took the place of these features.
Niantic canceled the test for New Zealand players on Tuesday, August 17th, and reverted all removed pandemic features due to a new series of COVID-19 cases and the country upgraded its alert level to Alert Level 4. That announcement was made on the Niantic Help Twitter account. At the time, Niantic also clarified that these changes would remain in place until the alert level was lowered by the New Zealand government.
As for why the change now, and the remark that the interaction distance will stay 80 meters for all Trainers globally, it may be due to today’s task force meeting with selected Pokémon GO players/organizations with Niantic. Some members of this task force tweeted earlier today that they meet with representatives from Niantic and that the meetings were rather positive and went “exceptionally well.”
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