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Pokémon Go’s pandemic-era distance changes are here to stay

Pokémon Go’s pandemic-era distance changes are here to stay


From 40 meters, to 80 meters, to 40 meters, and back again

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A person holding a phone and playing Pokémon Go.
James Bareham / The Verge

Niantic announced Wednesday that it’s going back on at least one of its controversial gameplay changes to Pokémon Go. The company is permanently increasing the distance you can be from the real-world locations of Pokéstops and Gyms and still interact with them. The new base limit is 80 meters (262 feet), the distance Niantic introduced at the start of the pandemic.

At the start of August, Niantic reverted the in-game interaction distance back to 40 meters (131 feet) in the US and New Zealand, much to the disappointment of fans who had appreciated the added accessibility benefits and COVID-19 safety the change offered. Now Niantic is promising to keep the increased distance permanently, along with other changes it’s announcing on September 1st.

You can see all the details on Niantic’s changelog, but it’s worth calling out the other changes that are sticking around for now in the US. Incense — used to attract wild Pokemon — will be less effective unless you’re moving, just like it was before the start of the pandemic. The changes to gift frequency from Buddy Pokémon are also locked in place.

This move from Niantic is a positive sign that the company is willing to adapt to the needs of its players. That may be in part due to the internal “task force” Niantic formed to address player issues and the threat of a boycott. Niantic plans to “share the findings of this task force by the next in game season change” on September 1st. Until then, sticking to a longer interaction distance is a good first step.