Good news: New Zealanders have had their Pokemon Go PokeStop and Gym radius restored to 80 meters, exactly what the community has been asking for in its demands for the return of COVID-19 changes to the game that would keep players safe and boost the game’s accessibility for rural and disabled gamers.
The bad news is that Niantic reinstituted the changes only in the region, only for a limited time, and only because the country is in COVID lockdown again following a single case of COVID. Meanwhile, here in the United States, we saw over 160,000 new COVID cases just yesterday, but in spite of telling protesters that player safety is part of its core mission, the company has made no move to alter the game here at home and indeed still encourages strangers to gather in small areas for a video game.
As Gamepress journalist @RyanSwg recently suggested, it seems as if Niantic is responding only to legal mandates, regardless of the actual safety situation. He put it more forcefully than that:
I feel we can safely conclude, without a doubt, that @NianticLabs doesn't give a single fuck about the health and safety of their player base. Rather, what they're legally allowed to get away with.
— RyanSwag (@SwgTips) August 18, 2021
He’s not the only POGO personality to note this troubling issue. We know of a few personalities talking to Niantic’s “task force,” such as ZoeTwoDots, but some have already warned us not to get our hopes up that Niantic will turn around its public relations debacle. Trainer Tip’s Nicholas Oyzon has already requested that fans choose not “turn on him […] if Niantic doesn’t change anything after the talk.” That doesn’t bode well for the game, especially as members of the community, such as POGO PvP site pvpoke.com, start turning towards Pokemon Unite, should Niantic continue to run the ship aground. Which, considering the whaling vessel the company is named after, seems far too appropriate.
We’ve written at length about the rollback, boycott, and Niantic’s “painfully deficient response”; you can get caught up here: