Today, many fans are up in arms over an announcement that the game will be reverting certain bonuses that were put in place because of the global health crisis.
Some, particularly the interaction range being decreased for PokéStops and Gyms, and the decreased incense effectiveness, will really hurt rural players that enjoyed more Pokémon spawns and easier access to locations. It’s also questionable to wind down these bonuses when vaccination rates in the US are very poor in some areas, possibly putting players at risk.
Billions of dollars can’t buy love
Last year Niantic reportedly earned almost $2 billion in revenue, largely thanks to Pokémon GO. That’s essentially twice what it made in 2019 and it happened during a global pandemic, something that actively prevented players from enjoying the game as they previously had.
But all that money hasn’t translated into much generosity back to the Pokémon community that enjoys the game. As noted by Serebii webmaster Joe Merrick, the paid research during Community Days has continually rewarded players with less value while remaining at the same price during 2021.
Free remote raid passes have also been uncommon, even though players could pick up a free regular raid pass each day for local raids prior to the pandemic. Now it has become a revenue-driving item that Niantic doesn’t seem eager to part with unless players open up their wallets.
This kind of stinginess is a pattern for Niantic, a company that, from fans’ perspectives, prefers to make gameplay decisions based on their bottom line rather than any real eagerness to serve the fans that keep their game in the top played mobile titles.
Niantic isn’t eager to talk candidly with its players
Communication is key to any relationship—and that still holds true between a game developer and the players who spend their time and money in the game. Unfortunately, Niantic has largely refused to answer to community feedback and the most activity fans see is from their Twitter help account (which is solely for technical issues).
It doesn’t feel like there’s a fan leading the development roadmap, it feels more like a faceless company is trying a little of this and a little of that to see “what works” for Pokémon fans. This is an issue we’ve been outspoken about since 2019. To be clear, I don’t want to throw their employees under the bus, because their social media team is probably under strict lock-and-key about what they can and can’t say or respond to.
What I, and I think a lot of other players, would like to see is honest responses to the feedback we give. It’s impossible to individually reply to players, but there are often overarching requests or complaints about the game. A company is under no obligation to bend to players’ whims, but backing up their choices with direct, logical communication about why they made their decision can go a long way to make players feel like at least they were listened to and their opinions were considered.
More accountability and communication, please
Please Niantic, at least listen and respond to the community. If something is broken, let us know why its taking so long to fix. If you don’t answer, your silence sounds a lot like you’re saying you don’t care. If we don’t hear anything back, all we can do is look at the revenue you’re taking in and scratch our heads about why there isn’t more being spent on testing before patches come out or faster fixes for things that have been broken for a year or longer. I don’t think that it’s hard to imagine that a situation like that doesn’t feel good from a fan’s perspective.
There are many more Pokémon we’d love to see on Pokémon GO someday, but it’s going to be hard to justify putting time and money into the game if this continual decline isn’t seriously addressed.
I’ve shared my thoughts above, but I’d love to hear yours as well. Leave your thoughts down in the comments or sound off about the issue in our Discord server.
Please remember that Niantic employees on social media are not responsible for company decisions and may even have similar sentiments as players. It is never acceptable to harass people online, even if you’re frustrated.