Pokemon Go Faces Backlash for Prioritizing In-Person Gameplay and Removing Accessibility Features

Niantic published a blog post to reassure users of its commitment to enhancing the in-game experience of Pokemon Go. But this promise has come back to haunt them. It’s no secret that the purpose of the 2016 introduction of Pokemon Go was to encourage players to leave their homes, go exploring, and build communities. Nonetheless, Pokemon Go has experienced tremendous growth, introducing gaming elements and a ton of new Pokemon to fill up the basic collecting model. 

And by a wide margin, 2020 was when Pokemon Go’s player base increased the most and generated the most money. This was partly because the app’s accessibility modifications allowed users to keep catching and fighting Pokemon despite the global lockout.

But three years after the world’s doors were shut, Niantic has kept removing these accessibility features one by one, like the layers of an onion. Despite players pleading with Niantic to reverse these changes, the business maintains that doing so will improve the in-game experience for players of Pokemon Go.

Outrage at Pokemon Go’s dedication to in-person gameplay

This worldview was explicitly expressed in a blog article from March 10, 2023, about Pokemon Go. The release, “Our continuous commitment to real-world engagement in Pokémon GO,” hinted at planned enhancements and extra rewards for players who raid in person or play the game outside their homes.

Players held their breath when the post went live because they thought it would reveal the upcoming Remote Raid Pass nerf. Yet they felt similarly let down by the information that Niantic provided or somewhat lacked. The post insulted disabled and rural players, and many users said Niantic didn’t care about players outside of urban regions. According to one user, Niantic essentially hands players who are less competent or live in rural areas “a big, gigantic middle finger.”

Some people on Twitter and Reddit complained that the post didn’t say much, while another described it as a “medium bowl of word salad” in a remark. They added that the antithesis of what players have been requesting over the past year or two was what was teased.

A few players responded to the news with cautious excitement. Although playing in person may sound attractive due to further advantages, many people are concerned that subsequent releases will include nerfs for remote play. I don’t blame them for wanting to devote their efforts to making the game fun to play in real life. I hope they’ll improve such play and give incentives rather than nerfing other play styles,” one user said.

Pokemon Go gamers are still determining what Niantic hints at in the message. It was more of a public service announcement. Players must wait until that time to find out what new features Niantic will add—or which ones they’ll remove.

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