Pokémon

Pokemon GO PokeStop Distance Bonus Reverts Today, and Trainers are Not Happy

Pokemon GO trainers aren't exactly thrilled about the loss of certain pandemic-era bonuses—especially the doubled PokeStop interaction distance.
Pokemon GO trainers aren't exactly thrilled about the loss of certain pandemic-era bonuses—especially the doubled PokeStop interaction distance. / Niantic Labs

Pokemon GO trainers aren't exactly thrilled about the loss of certain pandemic-era bonuses—especially the doubled PokeStop interaction distance.

At the beginning of the novel COVID-19 global crisis, worldly games such as Niantic Labs' flagship augmented reality (AR) mobile title, Pokemon GO, found themselves at a severe disadvantage. With trainers quarantining in their homes, gameplay stumbled to a halt. After all, most of the features in the game were based on getting outside and exploring the world. How would trainers play the game without endangering themselves?

Thus, the special bonuses were born.

Pokemon GO PokeStop Distance Bonus Revert Sparks Upset

Most of the special bonuses focused on keeping trainers at a safe distance while still being able to enjoy the basic mechanics of the game. In fact, Niantic Labs even created a new shop item around that principle: the Remote Raid Pass.

Now, however, with the primary variant of the virus seemingly on the retreat, some of those bonuses are being taken away. This has caused an unsurprising upset from the community that goes beyond the simple desire for convenience—the primary point of contention being PokeStop interaction distance.

Trainers haven't been silent about their displeasure, either. From long threads on every social media platform including Reddit and Twitter to actual Change.org petitions, the collective community of Pokemon GO has taken quite a few well-meaning avenues to no avail.

Reasons for keeping this sole bonus are just as varied. Some argue simply that the bonuses should be kept until the world is COVID-free—though, with a second and possibly third variant on the rise, this seems like a noble yet unlikely goal post.

"Covid is spiking in the US and elsewhere thanks to the Delta variant, and no word from Niantic on even continuing the distance bonuses through the rest of the pandemic," wrote Twitter user @SMACK64.

Others, while agreeing, state that the additional radius helps those confined to their homes or unable to travel as far for other reasons enjoy the game to a fuller extent.

"I'm disabled, this makes it impossible to play," Twitter user @KatalinaGatinha wrote, "They don't care about accessibility or disabled players. I'm done."

@heyaut0h echoed that sentiment, writing, "I'm mobility disabled and given how walking-heavy PoGo is, it makes it harder for me to play...It's really frustrating that they're doing away with everything."

Ultimately, the bonus seemed to just help players get more out of the game. One user, @KratosPogo, the author of one such aforementioned detailed thread, went on to refute the common argument of developers and contrary trainers, alike: the bonus discouraged exercise, going against one of the primary points of the game.

"Like many others have said, the 2x interaction distance bonus didn’t prevent me from going outside to play," they explained, "In fact, it made the game SO much better and enjoyable. And also safer and much more accessible."

As far as player-specific action goes, trainers have suggested massive in-game protests from avoiding the Raid Hour event from 6—7 p.m. local time on Wednesdays to avoiding playing the game on Mondays, entirely. Others have paused their content creation or coverage of Pokemon GO until something is done to respond to community outrage. The most common course seems to be just quitting the game—period.

Niantic Labs has yet to comment on player concerns directly.