Niantic is back to their old tricks
As a day one Pokemon Go player, I’m no stranger to witnessing Niantic making bad choices firsthand. But this particular choice (in addition to some of their design philosophies during lockdown) really takes the cake; especially with taking into account all of their past mistakes. In short, they’re retooling the remote raid function: one of the more interesting endgame activities for hardcore players. And that same player base has…thoughts.
What is Pokemon Go changing in 2023 that pissed people off?
In a blog on March 30, Niantic explained some of the upcoming changes to remote raids:
- Remote raids are getting more expensive (195 Pokecoins for a single raid pass)
- Remote raids can only be played five times per day per player
So why does this matter? Well, as is the case with many things Pokemon Go related, the studio (and The Pokemon Company) giveth and taketh away. Remote raids, a feature added late in the game’s lifecycle in 2020, allowed folks to engage in raid battles (one of the few meaningful things to do) remotely. Not only was this useful for individuals who didn’t leave their home; it was a boon for people who couldn’t leave their home for a variety of reasons, and it was a great way to keep the community alive and kicking in rural areas.
Niantic always promised that “details related to this feature may change in the upcoming weeks or months,” and for Pokemon Go fans, that disclaimer was an ill-portent they hoped would never come to pass. But it did, and many prominent members of the community spoke up about this, including Joe Merrick of Serebii.net fame, and other Pokemon groups like PokeJungle. The Pokemon Go subreddit is also ablaze (what is this, a Bungie game?!).
The big concern with the community is that Niantic is trying to slowly phase out the remote raid feature to get people outside more often: which will allow them to track their location data. But as Niantic has learned time and time again, it’s really hard to put that genie back in the bottle.
This is their official statement on the changes, which they seemingly knew would go poorly:
“We plan to keep Remote Raid Passes as part of Pokemon 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 Pokemon GO—a game we hope you continue to enjoy long into the future.”
Well, we’ll see about that last bit! Niantic is famous for reverting policies after an outcry, but if they really try to low-or-high-key phase out remote raid passes over time, it won’t go well.