Pokémon GO has been going strong for five years, and Niantic’s AR game has a loyal playerbase. The fifth anniversary Pokémon GO Fest last month was a high point for the game, and the developer has just announced that Generation 8 Pokémon will be rolling out towards the end of the month.
With profits also through the roof, anyone would think that this is a great place for fans of the Pokémon mobile game. However, that’s not the whole story.
Niantic recently started to revert some of the changes it made to make the outdoor exploration game more playable during the pandemic. It’s worth noting that the changes are not being reversed worldwide, just in areas that Niantic believes have a handle on the pandemic.
Pokémon GO Players Are Boycotting The Game Over Accessibility Changes
The main change that players are disappointed in is that Niantic is halving the distance you can spin PokéStops from. This is reverting it to the distance that it was pre-pandemic, but players are pointing out that in the blog post from November 19, 2020, Niantic said that the increased distance would be made permanent.
“Some of these changes will remain implemented for the foreseeable future, such as the ability to raid remotely, changes to the GO Battle League, and the increased distance at which you can spin Photo Discs at Gyms and PokéStops,” the blog posts reads.
This is why players are boycotting the game and posting the hashtag #HearUsNiantic on Twitter. High profile players, streamers, and content creators point out that the increased PokéStop distance aids safety, accessibility, and respect, as well as allowing players to more safely explore while the coronavirus pandemic is still a serious concern.
You can read the full explanation here:
It is worth noting that not everyone is boycotting, many players are posting to try to get Niantic to acknowledge the request and potentially address the changes.
Some creators have shifted to playing Pokémon Unite rather than Pokémon GO, and others are simply not playing the AR game. With new shinies coming to the game during the Ultra Unlock events, creators are in some cases putting their livelihoods on the line in order to make a stand for accessibility and safety.
UPDATE: Niantic has now published a blog post in response to the movement. "We appreciate your letter and all of your feedback," it reads. "We hear you. We are humbled by your response. Not every game has such a passionate, global player base that we’re fortunate enough to have."
You can read the full blog post here, which explains that Niantic will reach out to "community leaders," but doesn't detail whether any changes will be enacted. The developer will share its findings by September 1.