It may be pretty hot outside, but it’s getting even hotting in the online forums. Niantic is drawing the ire of the community after removing the social distancing incentives from Pokémon GO.
Last week, developer Niantic announced that they were changing some of the in-game functions that were previously modified to make the game more accessible to folks during pandemic related restrictions. Specifically: how close you have to be to gyms and PokéStops to interact with them.
In 2020, when the quarantines were being set in place, They compensated by adding in features like remote raid battles, increased incense durations, and increased range for gyms and stops. With the vaccine rolling out and various restrictions being lifted, Niantic decided to roll back the PokéStop range back to the original minimal distance.
People didn’t like this. Most notably, people in the disabled community. There were folks explaining that the extended range allowed folks with movement restrictions, or those restricted to their vehicles, were able to participate more effectively with the larger range. This included things like not having to cross streets, avoid trespassing, and maintain a safe distance from folks likely to harass them for their conditions.
Niantic has since responded to the backlash in a statement to Polygon.
“Going outside and spinning PokéStops and Gyms is important to our mission because it encourages exploration of the world. These locations are local points of interest in a community and could be historical landmarks, art installations, local businesses and more. Last year, we increased the interaction distance to nearly the length of a football field. It’s tough to discover new places at this distance. We’re going to revert the expanded interaction distance in countries and regions where it makes sense to help restore the focus of the game on exploration and discovery.”
While they make a valid point. We can’t help but agree with the community. A sense of exploration doesn’t happen if players aren’t going to the locations at all. I can recall plenty of stops that I’ve intentionally overlooked due to being a little too far out of easy access.
Though with this response, it doesn’t seem like Niantic is going to go back on this change. Best get used to it, we suppose.