To say people are mad is an understatement.
Another day, another change to something in Pokémon Go that royally angered the community. It’s not shocking, surprising, or even unexpected at this point. This time, it’s changes to the Remote Raids that have brought the ire of community members to the forefront yet again.
Niantic told players today that it is increasing the price of Remote Raids Passes, which allow players to join Raids from outside of their interactable area, and are putting a limit on how many they can join per day. The reaction from the community was swift, vile, and unrelenting. Many are commenting on how disabled people will be hurt by this, and others are pointing out that people who don’t live in densely populated areas will also be affected.
Not to mention, it was a feature that the majority of the player base simply enjoyed. The Remote Raids were added in response to the COVID-19 pandemic so that players could still join in on Raids without having to put themselves in danger of contracting the disease from others.
The move isn’t surprising to most players either, since there was an inkling that the restriction was coming when Joe Merrick, who runs Serebii.net, caught it in an update that was quickly taken out of the game once it was spotted last month.
The reasoning for the restrictions and increase in price was explained in the announcement post.
“Since their introduction in 2020, Remote Raid Passes have come to dominate the experience of playing Pokémon Go in a way we never intended,” Niantic said. “We plan to keep Remote Raid Passes as part of Pokémon Go. However, we believe this change is necessary for the long-term health of the game, and we do not make it lightly. We feel this is a necessary step toward our goal of preserving and improving the unique experience of playing Pokémon Goa game we hope you continue to enjoy long into the future.”
The “unique experience” that the developers are looking for? Going outside. This has been the mission of the game since the beginning that game director Michael Steranka has pushed consistently by adding and taking away features that encourage players to get together with friends.
It’s clear that Niantic knew the backlash would be imminent since Pokémon Go vice president Ed Wu had an “extensive” Zoom call with Eurogamer in which he tried to defend the decision.
“We know this is a big change and some folks will have a strong reaction to that,” Wu told Eurogamer. “We’re very empathetic to that reaction. But we really think this is the right thing for the overall long term health of the game, and our desire to make sure it’s great for many, many, many years to come.”
It’s very clear that the community disagrees. Although Niantic was ready for the backlash, players and Niantic alike will have to wait to see how the change impacts the overall participation in the game and how it might affect the company’s bottom line.
The community is mad just about any time Niantic makes a change that takes something away from the game that they’ve valued, shifts things back to the pre-pandemic state after they’ve enjoyed a feature for so long, or implements a feature that is hidden behind some kind of paywall, but this reaction is far harsher than most of those things. The last time the community was this upset, Steranka tried to tell them that they were the reason the Community Day times reverted back to just three hours on one day of the weekend.
Unfortunately for those who play the game on the regular, there isn’t much they can do about it except vote with their wallets. If the change is so universally hated that players avoid paying more for the features they used to enjoy for free, Niantic will surely see it in its next earnings report.