Today, several high-profile Pokémon GO players have called for a boycott of the game and developer Niantic on social media. In a post on Reddit, a group of players has penned an open letter to the company pleading with them to not remove the features they installed during the COVID-19 pandemic that allowed players to play the game from home or within a safe distance of several stops and gyms so they wouldn't run the risk of being exposed to the virus. Here's a snippet from the letter, which you can read in full at the link above.
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.
As we have covered in the past, the company ended the bonuses that have been added to the game as part of a process to remove them altogether. This was part of a roadmap laid out in June that was set to slowly take out the features as people were being vaccinated and different places were opening up. One of the main issues with this is that they seem to be operating on the U.S. timetable, which a lot of countries around the world are not on. What's more, many are also saying it's happening to seen as the Delta variant of the virus is now spreading and affecting those who are primarily unvaccinated.
Ultimately, at some point in time, the bonuses are going to be removed from Pokémon GO, it's just a matter of when. This may upset some, but also keep in mind, having them in permanently defeats one of the purposes of the game, which is to get people outdoors and walking around. Whether or not Niantic will listen and pause the changes or continue the course is yet to be seen. But if the hashtags #BoycottNiantic and #HearUsNiantic are any indications on Twitter, it looks like there won't be many playing the game right now anyway.