Niantic is facing a potential player boycott for Pokemon Go for changes to Remote Raids, but they seem determined to make the changes stick. This is a very sticky situation, but to understand why, first we need to talk about Remote Raids.
Pokemon Go’s Remote Raids are a special kind of raid where you don’t have to be at the physical location to participate. You will need to buy Remote Raid passes and be invited to Remote Raids to participate, but it was clearly designed to be a way for players to keep playing and collecting Pokemon from within their homes.
Niantic announced changes to Remote Raids on their official blog. Remote Raid Passes are going up from 100 to 195 PokeCoins, while a three pack of passes are raised from 300 to 525 PokeCoins. Players can also only join five Remote Raids per day.
As reported by Dexerto, the players are not happy about these changes and are talking about participating in a boycott. On reddit, one poster stated:
“we’re all aware of the predatory monetization schemes in the game shop with overpriced boxes and items, and the greediness of the corporation grows as a result.”
However, Niantic has taken the time to defend their changes, in an interview with Eurogamer. In this interview, Pokemon Go VP Ed Wu said:
“The world has largely moved back outdoors and Remote Raid passes have come to dominate the overall experience of playing in a way we never intended. It’s become essentially a shortcut to playing the game. We’ve seen an imbalance because the current price of Remote Raid passes is matched to the Premium Battle Pass which is distorting the game economy, and making the game unsustainable in the long term.”
Ed Wu goes on to say that they know that this change will prove unpopular. In fact, they anticipate that revenue will drop as a result, but they are going ahead with the changes for the sake of the game’s longevity.
Niantic anticipates that the possible normalization of Remote Raids will affect the integrity of the game overall. If everyone just easily keeps collecting Pokemon using Remote Raids, it won’t take that long for players to complete their collections and run out of things to do.
Their plan is not to remove Remote Raids altogether, but to raise the bar so that most players are encouraged to go back to playing outside.
And there’s the rub, as Niantic’s decision also reflects their changing attitude to the pandemic. As it should be clear, this doesn’t stop Pokemon Go players from playing at home completely, but it does mean they have a poorer experience.
Ed also states that they have crunched the numbers and believe that a small minority of their total player base will actually be affected by these changes. Most players are back to leaving their homes, and the game is being changed to accommodate most of those players.
But, that raises the question about accommodations for players who can’t just leave their houses. It seems that Niantic hadn’t taken these considerations into account when they made their decision. On the other hand, they expect the boycott to not be impactful to begin with.
It’s certainly a strange place for Nintendo’s most successful mobile game to find itself in.