Niantic, the developer behind Pokémon GO, has recently opened up about the challenges it has faced as the pandemic has lasted for as long as it has, and why it took them a while to listen to the fans who’ve been asking them to not roll back pandemic changes. It’s relatively rare to see a company open up so much about the struggles of the last year, but it’s good to see it’s resulted in positive change.
Pokémon GO had recently planned to return to its pre-pandemic interaction radiuses for PokeStops and Gyms. Players have protested this as they say it’s not yet safe for people, particularly in the U.S. where this change would have rolled out, to be forced into close proximity to each other. There was nearly a boycott of the game until Niantic relented and promised to keep the interaction radius at 80 meters. At the time, Niantic seemed to grumble about the change, as it still wished to encourage people to go out and explore.
Niantic Executive Producer Steve Wang said in a blog post: “We should be communicating and engaging more with Trainers. I hope that, with your patience and understanding, we can do better here…We went through a rough learning experience recently when we had to adjust the game settings for New Zealand quickly in response to their lockdown. This experience taught us that we are not going to be able to effectively adjust the experience on a country-by-country basis in real-time.”
I’ve seen game developers thank fans for their feedback, but rarely have I seen one give a full-blown mea culpa where they acknowledge their fans were right and that they had their priorities wrong. They outlined how they plan to implement new communication policies so they can be in better contact with their community.