In light of recently announced Pokémon GO updates, a Change.com petition to maintain safe Gym and PokéStop interactions has been picking up steam.
The popular AR game Pokémon GO has been the subject of some criticism after Niantic’s announcement that the augmented reality game would be reversing some of its mid-pandemic gameplay modifiers. Specifically, thousands of fans have banded together in an attempt to keep gym interaction distances at their COVID-19-era threshold in the interest of maintaining safe health standards.
The massively popular augmented reality mobile game made a number of alterations to its core gameplay mechanics last year due to worldwide lockdowns. One of the most significant of these changes was the extension of the interaction threshold for real-world Gyms and PokéStops. This change was made with the intention of spreading players out and reducing potential infection rates. In light of loosening lockdown restrictions, Niantic revealed that it would be replacing these features with ones designed to promote more social engagement. This was yet another in a line of recent Pokémon GO updates.
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On June 23, gaming publication Dexerto reported news of a massive Change.com petition to retain the broader Gym and PokéStop interaction thresholds. The petition claims that the increased distance was “one of the best changes [Niantic] ever made, making the game safer and more accessible for all“. This movement has proven to be extremely popular, with the petition amassing over 60,000 signatures in just two days. The goal is 75,000 signatures, so proponents of this reversal may very well see their desires come to fruition.
Much of the discourse surrounding Niantic’s decision to walk back the social distancing considerations have had a theme of confusion, with critics not understanding why players should be potentially forced into close quarters with each other. Few of Pokémon GO‘s other exploration bonuses have been subjected to such controversy, likely owing to the fact that the reasoning behind them is clear. Furthermore, most of the changes made during and following the height of the pandemic had a symbiotic effect, benefiting both the players and Niantic.
Conversely, a feature that offers players no choice but to go into possibly crowded or enclosed spaces does not provide Pokémon GO users with any useful perks or advantages in-game. By stripping away the ability to play Pokémon GO in a more flexible manner, Niantic has created a situation that was almost guaranteed to enrage fans who still feel uncomfortable being in close quarters with others. While companies like Sony might not always listen to petitions, the relatively small scale of this request from fans might just make Niantic change its mind.
Pokémon GO is available now on iOS and Android.
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