Pokémon GO task force reports back - 80 meter interaction radius here to stay, Niantic pledges better communication with community going forward

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Steve Wang, the Executive Producer of Pokémon GO and Niantic, has released a statement on behalf of the Pokémon GO team regarding the measures taken for players of Pokémon GO for the COVID-19 pandemic, following backlash from players and the community on the removal of certain bonuses to encourage outside play. The team had set up an internal task force to discuss the changes they will be making to the game, including the PokéStop and Gym interaction distances.

According to the statement, since release, PokéStops and Gyms were designed to nudge Trainers to get outside and discover new places, walk an extra kilometer or two, and meet others. After listening to player's feedback over the past few weeks, including through four roundtable conversations where Steve Wang spoke directly with over 30 community leaders from around the world, they've come to understand that the 80 meter interaction radius for PokéStops and Gyms has been an incredibly positive quality of life improvement over the past year and a half, and that Niantic has a lot of room to grow when it comes to communication with players. As a result of these discussions, it's now been decided that 80 meters will be the base interaction radius for PokéStops and Gyms globally from now on. The team are eager to develop new ways that motivate and reward Trainers for exploring and exercising in the real world, and new ideas to explore will be shared in the coming months.

After the recent rough learning experience regarding the game settings' adjustment for New Zealand in response to their lockdown, Niantic also learnt that it is unable to effectively adjust the experience on a country-by-country basis in real-time. Starting with the Season of Mischief, all bonuses will be set at a global level and be tied directly to the seasons in Pokémon GO.

Niantic has also made a commitment to communicating and engaging more with Trainers, and acknowledges that there are many ways they can improve. Starting in October, Niantic will begin publishing a developer diary every other month to share the latest priorities, events, and features for the game, set up regular conversations with community leaders, and updating the Known Issues page, prioritizing bringing greater visibility into the status of existing bugs for Trainers. Niantic apologized for the lack of communication regarding the PokéStop and Gym interaction radius and not handling well on their part.

Steve Wang—Executive Producer of Pokémon GO and Niantic said:
First, I want to thank you for being patient. Your passion and concerns have not been lost on us these past few weeks, and our internal task force has spent a lot of time discussing the changes we made to the PokéStop and Gym interaction distances. Now we want to give you an update as promised.

What We Heard from the Community

PokéStops and Gyms are one way we try to nudge Trainers to get outside and discover new places, walk an extra kilometer or two, and meet others. It’s been inspiring to see so many players around the world come together as a result of this design. To me, it means Pokémon GO is important to many people, and it means Trainers expressed their concerns because they care about the game.

We’ve been listening to player feedback and also set up four roundtable conversations where I spoke with over 30 community leaders from around the world (thank you all for your participation!). The two main themes we heard were:
  • The 80 meter interaction radius for PokéStops and Gyms has been an incredibly positive quality of life improvement over the past year and a half.
  • Niantic has a lot of room to grow when it comes to communication with our players.
PokéStop and Gym Interaction Distance

We understand that the increased 80 meter interaction distance became a welcome benefit for many players -- that is clear from the feedback we saw from the community. So we want to keep it: as announced last week, 80 meters (not 40 meters) will be the base interaction radius for PokéStops and Gyms globally from now on.

We still believe in the importance of discovering interesting places and things in the real world, and we don’t want to lose sight of that. The team and I are eager to develop new ways that motivate and reward Trainers for exploring and exercising in the real world. As a result of the taskforce, we have new ideas to explore and we look forward to sharing more in the coming months.

Seasonal Global Bonuses

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. Starting with the Season of Mischief all bonuses will be set at a global level and be tied directly to the seasons in Pokémon GO. You can find more details on those bonuses in our announcement yesterday here.

Communication

We should be communicating and engaging more with Trainers. I hope that, with your patience and understanding, we can do better here. There are many ways we can improve, but to start, we’re making the following commitments to you:

  • Starting in October, we will begin publishing a developer diary every other month to share the latest priorities, events, and features for the game.
  • We are going to set up regular conversations with community leaders to continue the dialogue we began this month.
  • We will continue our work on updating the Known Issues page and in those efforts, will prioritize bringing greater visibility into the status of existing bugs for Trainers.
We love how passionate Pokémon GO Trainers are about this game, and we want you to know how passionate we are about the game and community as well. The lack of communication regarding the PokéStop and Gym interaction radius was not handled well on our part, and it was a great learning experience on how to better engage with our players moving forward. Our top priority is and always has been to get people outside into the real world and creating human connections with each other. Thank you for being a part of this journey with us -- you’ll hear from us again soon.

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