With the declaration that things were headed back to normal in May, Niantic immediately started making noises about rolling out some of the changes they had put in place in Pokemon Go during the pandemic.
Now, they certainly were not going to remove remote raid passes, something they added in response to COVID, because I am sure they are a big money maker for the company. But they did throttle back on their usefulness. They weren’t nerfed into oblivion, but if you started a raid with one it would be limited to 10 people and the damage output of remote raiders was dialed back. Kind of a pain, but tolerable. Our remote raid pass text group can still take down a five star boss if we can get six of us in the fight.
There were a few other changes, but the kicker, the one that got people howling, was the reduction in range when it came to accessing gyms and Pokestops. In order to facilitate people being able to raid and battle in public during the pandemic they had doubled the range at which you could access gyms and Pokestops from 40 meters to 80 meters.
That is kind of a lot, and we immediately got used to that range. We live in an area with a lot of gyms around, and that range puts a lot of them in range from the street, so my wife and I would go out and battle roll in the car, taking gyms and spinning Pokestops without having to stop and, in a couple cases, stand in the middle of somebody’s condo complex to battle.
So when Niantic pulled it, the change was immediately noticeable. We had gotten used to the 80m range so quickly it was hard to recall the before times. And we were not the only ones who felt the blow. Lots of people complained, signed petitions, ranted on forums, and generally tried to raise an internet ruckus while Niantic seems quite unmoved.
This is one of those things where I wonder if the decision was even up to Niantic. When they announced the roll back for Pokemon Go I went and checked their news for their other games, Ingress and that horrible Harry Potty skinned version of Pokemon Go, and the company wasn’t putting out press releases about post-COVID roll backs for those titles.
So I suspect, even if I cannot prove, that it was The Pokemon Company… which, given the ownership balance, is pretty much a sock puppet for Nintendo… that was calling the shots on this front.
The Pokemon Company oversees the Pokemon franchise with an iron fist and, because Nintendo has the biggest voice in the company, it also tends to reflect some of Nintendo’s obsessions, like health and forcing community interaction. Some of that obsession has turned into fun features. I liked the PokeWalker that came with Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver, and the whole Street Pass thing with the Nintendo 3DS series was genius. But sometimes they push things a bit far, so I could see somebody at TPC declaring that 80m wasn’t close enough to foster community.
We had a grand old time with Pokemon Go Fest and sat on the steps of the old post office building with a crowd of fellow players and hit the four gyms in range without remote raid passes as we swapped stories and exchanged friend codes. I think we were honestly more social being able to congregate in one place. But you can’t tell Nintedo that.
But then the whole idea that the pandemic was over went out the window with the Delta variant and now ICU beds in red states are full of people who refused to get vaccinated to “own the libs” and makes and quarantines and working from home and remote schooling all possible in our reality again soon because we just can’t take this stuff seriously.
And so this past week Niantic announced that their task force studying player feedback on their pandemic feature roll back would be presenting their results on September 1st. Yeah sure, whatever.
But they did say that the interaction range with gyms and Pokestops would be swapped back immediately and permanently to 80m. Somebody saw the light… or felt the community wrath.
I texted my wife, who was out and about, and she confirmed that the 80m range seemed to be back in place. So we’re happy again. We’re going on a trip soon… if it isn’t scuttled by COVID… and having that extra range in a new place will make for some easier Pokemon adventures out in the world.
- Related – Pokemon Go Taskforce Results