Niantic acknowledged game play problems rural players face daily, offering a thorough explanation on what they’re doing to improve “the rural situation”. All of the quotes below were shared on reddit by NianticGeorge, Niantic’s official customer support representative.

We applied a mild amount of formatting (line breaks and bullets) to make the quotes more readable.

Statement #1

/u/Shinigami483, we haven’t forgotten about you and we’re working on it. To best explain what we’re doing, we need to look at where we came from with Ingress.

Ingress never had the rural issue in the same way that Pokémon GO currently does. That’s in part due to that fact that we allowed Portal submissions for the majority of Ingress’s existence so most users were able to create Portals around their area if none already existed. That mechanism was labor-intensive but it worked for the scale of that game.

With Pokémon GO, we saw a torrent of players picking up the game in places where Ingress never caught on. The number of players is so many that we simply couldn’t turn on portal submissions and hire a team of Portal reviewers. Instead, we’ve needed to design a solution that fits the size of the issues.

So we invested in Operation Portal Recon. Lots of players have reported the benefits OPR in their communities, but I would still argue that OPR is in its infancy in terms of the impact it has on rural players. While it might sound wildly optimistic, I would bet that with time we’ll see near parity between rural and urban players.

As for difficulties finding a raid team in rural areas, we’re working on that too (but we’re not ready to announce anything just yet). – source

Statement #2

Thank you for your post. I shared some thoughts on rural players with regard to new PokéStops earlier in the week. At the end of my comments, I mentioned that we are working on mechanisms to make it easier for players to come together for Raid Battles.

I do disagree with the statement that Niantic doesn’t care about rural players. We’ve made some big improvements:

  • OPR has drastically improved access for rural players,
  • adding sponsored locations has improved access with a varying level of impact to rural players (we know we need sponsors in more places),
  • adding the ability to get items from Gyms has helped address the no Poké Ball issue that plagued rural players,
  • increasing the number of Gyms so more areas have access to battle, and making changes to balance Pokémon distribution.

This is not to say that our work here is done. It’s quite the opposite. I cannot stress enough that we still have lots and lots of work to do here. As frustrating as the situation is, I would urge you not to treat the absence of an immediate solution as an absence of our commitment to this issue.

Things will get better. – source