Developers Niantic have heard how unhappy people are with the reduced distances in Pokémon GO. And their response has been underwhelming.
Recently, Niantic rolled back the distance needed to interact with things like Gyms and PokéStops. It was originally extended to promote social distancing during the peak of the pandemic. And with vaccines rolling out, they decided to bring it back to it’s notably shorter range. Many folks were unhappy with this, though. Some common reasons were the concern for a rise in COVID Cases as the virus continues to mutate, others cited accessibility concerns, allowing those with limited mobility greater ease when trying to participate in the game.
Discontent with the changes grew so strongly, that a boycott was being organized. This seems to have encouraged Niantic to respond. Unfortunately, the response isn’t “we will go back to the longer range.” Instead, they stated that they’ve organized a “task force” to investigate the situation and the company will decide their next move based on their results.
“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.”
To us, this feels a bit unnecessary. We understand why they want to promote exploration, and how shorter ranges might help with that. But if it makes your general community unhappy, it’s not helpful. Waiting on an entire task force to tell you this seems a bit much. And even so, why not go back to the extended range until the task force has results.
One theory, and this is speculation on our part, is that the extended range is creating issues with sponsored PokéStops. It’s possible that their business partners want people closer to the PokéStop locations they paid to advertise on, so Niantic is trying to encourage this discreetly.
Either way, stay tuned.