Trainers, media influencers and content creators have united on social media behind a curious hashtag: #HearUsNiantic. The hashtag went trending at various times throughout the day, indicating a high aggregated volume of real time tweets. What lies behind this media campaign?
At the core of #HearUsNiantic is the community’s reaction to the recent reduction of PokéStop interaction radius, going down from 80 meters to 40 meters. The interaction distance was increased at the start of COVID-19 pandemic, and is now slowly being returned to pre-pandemic values.
Pokémon GO already announced the new Exploration bonuses and changes to Stay-at-home bonuses earlier in June, but players haven’t reacted in an organized manner prior to today.
Niantic has not officially responded to the community’s outreach, but Eurogamer got in touch with a Niantic spokesperson who gave the following statement:
“As we announced in June, we’re introducing new exploration bonuses for players in the US and New Zealand and are removing or changing some of the bonuses introduced last year. People can check the Today View in game to see which specific bonuses are available to them. We’ll continue to monitor health and safety guidance related to outdoor activities.”
Regardless of the outcome of this campaign, we urge our readers to read How We As a Community Can Voice Our Concerns to Niantic, stay respectful and avoid toxic behavior on social media and towards the game developers.
We’ll update our readers on further developments and you can read the #HearUsNiantic message below.
Hear Us Niantic Message
Community and Creators alike wish to voice our concern and disappointment over recent changes to the PokéStop interaction radius reduction in Pokémon GO.
While the PokéStop/POI interaction radius was increased due to an unprecedented global pandemic, the flow on effects of this in-game change have had a far greater positive impact on the community.
The increased Pokéstop interaction radius created the following benefits for Trainers worldwide:
- Not needing to cross dangerous roads to reach or interact with a point of interest.
- Not ‘needing’ to trespass on private property to reach or interact with a point of interest.
- Provided the ability to play and interact from a sheltered shared location e.g. under trees, awnings or shelters to avoid hazardous weather conditions.
- Playing from safe locations and not entering areas that would be detrimental to personal safety. This includes preventing a risk to safety via interpersonal crimes, theft, environmental hazards, dangerous locations etc.
- General personal safety for social distancing during the ongoing global pandemic.
- Many disabled Trainers could now interact with locations that previously excluded them from the Pokémon GO community. This includes interacting with Gyms and Pokéstops that would otherwise be inaccessible due to stairs, steep inclines or other physical barriers. All while being very generously within visual range of the point of interest.
- Trainers with autism and sensory conditions could engage with the community from a more accomodating distance. Allowing them to play with the community but not be overwhelmed by large crowds or triggering locations.
- Trainers with young children or in a position of care could more safely interact with points of interest while maintaining a safe environment for those in their care.
- Greater courtesy and respect to non-Trainers in the community by way of not crowding or blocking entry to businesses, private property, playgrounds, emergency services, places of worship or memorials.
With how diverse and unique members of the Pokémon GO community are, this is likely only a small handful of examples of the way in which the increased interaction radius helped us enjoy the game to a greater extent.
As mentioned in the November 19th 2020 blog update for Pokémon GO, Trainers were given the impression this increased Pokéstop interaction radius would be made permanent: “Some of these changes will remain implemented for the foreseeable future, such as the ability to raid remotely, changes to the GO Battle League, and the increased distance at which you can spin Photo Discs at Gyms and PokéStops”.
The removal of this feature will and is impacting the community in countless negative ways.
One of the three pillars of Niantic’s core philosophy, as communicated by founder and CEO John Hanke, is exploration. Mr Hanke, exploration and the desire to explore was never negatively impacted by the increased Pokéstop interaction radius. The thing negatively impacting exploration is the global pandemic.
We request the increased interaction radius remains a permanent quality of life change in Pokémon GO.
We understand changes like this take time to discuss internally, and therefore look forward to your reply by COB Monday 9th August 2021.
The Pokémon GO Community