Niantic, the developer behind the widely successful mobile game Pokémon Go, is receiving heavy backlash from fans amidst the news that they will be removing the many features and updates that were introduced into the game last year due to COVID-19. These changes include removing features like increased incense effectiveness, more gifts from buddy Pokémon, and increased interaction distances.
— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) June 21, 2021
On Twitter, the official Pokémon Go posted an update on the many features that are expected to roll out to players in the coming months. Many of the changes will revert the post-COVID-19 changes to what they were pre-pandemic, forcing players to go out and interact how they normally would.
Many players took to Twitter in hopes that Niantic would listen to the community and keep these changes. While there are some places in the world that are improving and opening up more, there are just as many places in the world that are doing worse than others. And being that Pokémon Go is a globally connected game, these changes end up hurting the playing experience of many people. In some cases, these changes also put people at risk.
Many people have made petitions in order to show Niantic how upset they are at these changes and paint a bigger picture of just how much people are affected due to these changes. One petition created by Justin Westfall has almost 20,000 signatures at the time of writing. Justin Westfall states in his petition that these changes, “will make areas more difficult to get to and encourages groups to gather. Even though there has been great progress in vaccinations there is no reason not to keep encouraging safe distance practices. This decision only makes the game worse for all players.”
Another petition created by user “Sword Slash” has over 50,000 signatures at the time of writing. In this petition, they say “They had previously said this change would be permanent, but have went back on their word. Let them know that increased interaction distance was one of the best changes they have ever made, making the game safer to play and more accessible for all.” One signee named Sheena Walter said her reason for signing was “Taking away things that made the game more accessible to people (including people with disabilities) is a bad move.”
The Pokémon Go Reddit page is filled with threads of fans voicing their complaints with Niantic, as well as those giving their theories as to why Niantic would reverse these changes. Whether or not Niantic will reverse its decision remains yet to be seen. One thing is for certain though: a majority of the fanbase is upset and frustrated. Only time will tell if Niantic will listen to the passionate community.