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Niantic admits it needs to communicate better with Pokémon Go players

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Changes will no longer be applied on a country-by-country basis

Pokemon Go Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Last month Niantic sparked a backlash in the Pokémon Go community when it announced plans to reverse some of the changes it made last year to make the game more playable while staying at home. The company said it would set up a “task force” to figure out the best way to move forward and would announce its findings by today, September 1st.

As announced last week, the first main point of action is that Niantic will keep the 80-meter interaction distance for pokéstops and gyms everywhere around the world, after first saying it’d revert to the pre-pandemic 40-meter distance first in the US and New Zealand. Niantic now says it realizes that altering mechanics like this in a real-time, region-specific manner is impractical, and will apply features in the same way across the globe going forward.

“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,” executive producer Steve Wang says in a statement. “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.”

Wang says that while the increased interaction distance will stay, the team still believes that discovering things in the real world is an important part of Pokémon Go and plans to “develop new ways that motivate and reward Trainers for exploring and exercising in the real world.”

The other main finding of the task force was that Niantic “has a lot of room to grow when it comes to communication with our players.” To that end, the company says it’ll post bi-monthly developer diaries to “share the latest priorities, events, and features,” and will engage in “regular conversations with community leaders.”

Niantic isn’t giving a whole lot of new, concrete information here, but it’s quite unusual for a gaming company to call itself out like this. What will ultimately matter most, of course, is how it handles similar situations in the future.