Niantic breaks silence on HearUsNiantic movement and Pokémon Go’s Remote Raid controversy

Everything becomes clear.

The HearUsNiantic Pokémon Go movement has been growing in recent weeks due to Niantic’s lack of response to its community. They feel they are being ignored, undervalued, and pushed out of a game they want to love, but feel they can’t do anything about it. It has led to a lot of players feeling rightfully frustrated and above all, worried about the future of their beloved mobile game.

Until now, Niantic has been mostly silent in any responses to the trend. But in an interview on May 15 with Pokémon Go director Michael Steranka and senior producer John Funtanilla, Dot Esports was able to ask them about the HearUsNiantic social media trend that has been growing in intensity these past few weeks following messy decisions to put a cap on remote raid passes on April 6, as well as an abundance of changes being made to the game that reverse many systems introduced over the COVID-19 pandemic that allowed players to participate without the need for as much traveling.

Related: Niantic doubles down on remote raid changes with new Pokémon Go Shadow Raids feature

While Niantic as a whole has been virtually silent and has not responded at all to the movement, Steranka and Funtanilla talked candidly about their own views regarding both the community backlash and what part of the team felt about it. When asked for a comment regarding both the HearUsNiantic trend and remote raid pass changes, Steranka had this to say:

“Yeah, we’ve definitely taken note, you know, it’s hard to ignore, right? Like, I’m personally being tagged a lot in a lot of these tweets. So we read everything, and we see everything, it’s one of those things where, you know, we never want to go out and respond to two calls like that, unless we have something to actually show for it. And for us for the rest of this year, we really feel like actions will speak louder than words.

And we’ve been working really hard as a development team to put together a huge slate of new features, that players, you know, we hope will enjoy over the course of this year. So, you know, personally speaking, right, like, I’m pretty sure I used to do more remote raids than 99 percent of your readers, right?

That was like a very, very painful decision to make even for me. But when we look at sort of the overall health of the game, and the type of behaviors that remote raid passes were introducing, it just really didn’t align with the kind of experience we were trying to create. And I can honestly say like, even for me personally, it became sort of an unhealthy way to engage with the game, right? I would just sort of throw money at Poké Points so that I can, you know, spam legendary rage as much as possible.

And we’re talking about legendary Pokémon, you know, they’re supposed to be the epic epitome of all Pokémon, you know, content. And this is something that players including myself are doing over a dozen times a day, you know, for some people over 100 times a day. And so that’s something that we really, you know, honestly let go on a little bit too long and ultimately needed to course correct.

So again, super, super painful decision that is not something we took lightly. But it’s something that we felt is necessary for the longevity of the game and to also ensure that, you know, we’re not really compromising on our mission.

And so yeah, we have no plans to directly address any of the HearUsNiantic things recently, because we’ll be sticking with the decision that was made. But instead, we’re hopeful that players will see a lot of the hard work that the team has been putting into this game for the past year because I think what we have coming out in 2023, is gonna really blow people away.”

Michael Steranka, Pokémon Go director

This was then followed by Funtanilla’s own thoughts:

“I would want to add one thing… just to echo Michael’s sentiment of coming onto this team, you know, like, everyone is incredibly passionate about the game. And I feel like sometimes that’s lost, you know, that, that we’re confident in our decision. And like, I’m basically what we want to do is, is, you know, what Michael is saying is that we really want our actions to speak louder than words. But everyone liked it. There’s a lot of Michaels on this team, you know, like, everyone’s playing the game, everyone, you know, like, wants to do remote raids, but we kind of have to understand, you know, like, what we feel is best for the player experience.

I really want that. I’m passionate, you know, it’s like leveling up super fast of everyone on the team. So that’s something that we see every day. Everyone, you know, lives and breathes this game.”

John Funtanilla, Pokémon Go senior producer

It remains to be seen if the wider team at Niantic will also address the issues fans have been asking for, but it appears Niantic is sure what it’s doing is right for the company’s core mission and won’t be reversing recent changes anytime soon.

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