Pokemon Go reverts pandemic changes in the US and New Zealand

As COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the United States.

As previously announced, Pokemon Go has begun to phase out the changes made to accommodate play during the COVID-19 pandemic. The adjustments have only come into place in the United States and New Zealand so far, and developer Niantic has described the changes as a test.

As the pandemic led to more people around the world finding themselves unable to head outside or feeling uncomfortable attending venues or large gatherings, Niantic introduced a raft of changes to allow Pokemon Go to be played more safely from within your home area. It was effective, with Pokemon Go pulling in nearly $2bn of revenue during 2020, and breaking $3.6bn in lifetime revenue midway through the year. As restrictions begin to ease in some regions, however, the changes are starting to be rolled back.

Pokemon Go Pandemic changes rolled back
 
© The Pokemon Company

The biggest adjustments include the interaction range for PokeStops, gyms, and raid passes reverting to pre-pandemic levels. That means players will need to get out and about more to interact with the game, and Niantic is even offering “exploration bonuses” to encourage players to do so. Not all changes are being reverted, however. Details like gift carry/open limits, and the restrictions to challenging trainers remotely via QR code will remain in place.

The decision to implement these changes now has not gone down well among the Pokemon Go community however. Many cite rising COVID-19 cases in the US, and increasing concern over the delta variant of the virus. Many have said they don't feel comfortable playing in the way that's expected, effectively leaving them unable to play Pokemon Go at all.

It’s not just the pandemic that has led to players feeling upset about the changes. Whether it’s due to accessibility issues, or general safety, the increased ranges had allowed more people than ever to enjoy Pokemon GO. While Niantic is going ahead with the test in the United States and New Zealand for now, we’ll need to wait and see if the company commits to the phasing out entirely and introduces it to other regions of the world as well.

Associate Editor

Henry Stenhouse serves an eternal punishment as the Associate Editor of AllGamers. He spent his younger life studying the laws of physics, even going so far as to complete a PhD in the subject before video game journalism stole his soul. Confess your love of Super Smash Bros. via email at henry.stenhouse@allgamers.com, or catch him on Twitter.

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