Pokémon Go developer Niantic Labs has caused frustration among fans for taking renewed steps to make the game more accessible before quickly sending them back.
On June 27th, Niantic made Pokémon Go fully compatible with Campfire – its social app designed to connect players in-game – and also updated the game to double the catch radius from 40 meters to 80 meters.
Both changes have been heralded as major strides by Niantic in improving accessibility in a game that has often been criticized as lacking in this regard. But it wasn’t long before the developer reverted one of those changes.
In a tweet from Niantic’s support account (below), the developer said the increased spawn radius was just a bug. “This was the unintended effect of a fix designed to improve the Pokémon encounter experience when your device is experiencing GPS drift,” it said. “While we’re reverting this change, we’ll be taking your feedback into account as we look to improve the Pokémon encounter experience in the future.”
Some Trainers may have noticed an increase in the current interaction radius. This was the unintended effect of a fix intended to improve the Pokémon encounter experience when your device is experiencing GPS drift. While we’re reverting this change, we’re taking your…
– Niantic Support (@NianticHelp) June 27, 2023
Niantic also faced backlash in April for increasing the price of Remote Raid Passes – which allow players to participate in collective boss fights without having to be physically there – and reducing the number available to players each day because it makes the game less accessible. This recent bout of backtracking is therefore an all-too-familiar occurrence for some players.
“I’m honestly sick of Niantic playing with my feelings,” said Surfing_Arrokuda on Reddit. “Finally we think they’re doing something right just for them to take it away from us.”
Envyforme responded to the responses: “This company doesn’t know what the hell change management and proper testing is all about. They think that because of the inconvenience, they would keep it for a few weeks, at least until the end of July.” No. In the truest sense of the word, the main game is their test playground. The player base are the quality assurance testers.”
Another user explained why the increased spawn radius was so valuable. “I really liked the increased spawn radius,” Emergency-Hunter-515 said in another post. “I live in a rural area and the expansion has helped me a lot. It’s a pity they don’t listen to us, for whatever reason.”
Makotokahn2212 compared it to another accessibility feature that was also removed. “It’s honestly the best thing that has happened to the game since long-distance trading. And that was taken away too,” they said. “This company really knows how to screw up good things; it’s almost comical. Only we are the punch line.”
Celebrity Pokémon Go YouTubers have also voiced their grievances Mystical7 (who has 2.49 million subscribers) tweeted that he “thought the Remote Raid nerf was the biggest Pokemon Go nerf this year.”
Pokémon Go news site The Silph Road offered a workaround of sorts for the issue, saying that users still using version 275.0 of the game can disable automatic updates to enjoy it for a while longer, though Niantic will eventually force the update becomes.
IGN asked Niantic if it was aware of the complaints and if it would consider reverting the reduced radius change, but was redirected to the aforementioned tweet by its support account.
When Niantic spoke to IGN in May about its decision to cap the number of Remote Raid Passes available to players each day, Niantic said it was done to prevent players from abusing the system and deviating from the core message friends to go outside.
“The changes we’ve made to Remote Raid Passes are an incredibly difficult decision that we didn’t take lightly,” said Michael Steranka, director of Pokémon Go live play. “So we had to take action and we knew it was going to be incredibly unpopular [decision]and even for myself it’s a hard pill to swallow.
Ryan Dinsdale is a freelance IGN reporter. He’ll be talking about The Witcher all day.