Removing COVID-19 features from Pokémon Go is a huge mistake

Pokémon Go

Niantic, The Pokémon Company and their game Pokémon Go are under fire this week after deciding to go ahead with their original plan making their social-distancing update temporary. 

The COVID response update “Play At Home” in the United States and New Zealand was first hinted in a May 2020 post. Last November, we got a heads up that the bonuses were temporary and they would continue to adapt to new information. This past June, the Pokémon GO Team said PokéStop and Gym interaction distances “will revert back to the standard distance, when it makes sense in different places.”

This is concerning. It feels like the Delta variant was not taken into consideration even though it is now on the rise. Reverting these changes is controversial considering the shocking and unplanned number of Americans refusing to vaccinate. The current situation that carried over from last year incentivizes Pokemon Go players to stay home.

The best change was the increased Player radius to reach in-game features like PokéStops and Gyms, which was discontinued as of Aug. 1. Players now have to move closer to each other in some situations, even as many people are still practicing social distancing vigilantly. 

Giving something to help and taking it away is poor design. If you have a good tool or feature making your players happy, why take it away? It causes frustration and ruins the game for players who relied on it. Reaching PokéStops from across the street was a fantastic feature and kept me playing longer. It’s like we lost a core part of the game.

Niantic has responded to the backlash surrounding the decision, promising to research potential issues and provide and update on its findings by Sept. 1. For now, we can only wait and see if the company will reverse course.

Niantic, Game Freak and the Pokémon Company need to address and reconsider their decision to retain their player base. It’s a negative experience, especially amid the ongoing pandemic. Meeting us halfway, they could also expand the radius more but keep it less than it was for last year.

You can view the petition to keep these changes here.

Special Bonus remaining until next month

  • 10x XP for visiting PokéStops for the first time
  • Guaranteed Gifts from Pokéstops spins
  • Up to two free Raid Passes per day by Spinning Gym Photo Discs
  • Increased Increase effectiveness while walking
  • Boosted damage for Trainers battling remotely by raids

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