Massively on the Go: The latest Pokemon Go dev diary is just more marketing speak


Pokemon Go’s second dev diary is out, and it’s at least as disappointing as the first. Niantic has not been known for great communication and continues to release controversial content and phone-breaking bugs despite player reports. The latest dev diary primarily reads like a marketing/PR briefer released by teams around the time of product launch, not months or years after.

Niantic had originally offered dev diaries up to the playerbase when the company was trying to resolve the Pokemon No boycott, a player and influencer campaign that agitated against Niantic’s initial decision to undo COVID-related safety measures and push players into close proximity – thereby generating lucrative data for Niantic – just as the Delta variant was ramping up in the USA. However, the dev diaries that have since manifested have little to no value to actual players.

The first issue, on Community Days, referenced a feature so old that everything discussed was either common knowledge in veteran player circles or non-issues. The second one focuses on the game’s latest season, which has largely been successful. While it comes as no surprise that a company should pat itself on the back via marketing and PR, the dev diaries have now both sounded like advertisements, rather than acting as a way for the dev team to address community complaints before they become major flare-ups.

From Niantic’s original message about wanting to communicate better

For example, the newly released Pokestop/gym leveling up feature has not been well received. In fact, I recently played with two returning players, and neither wanted to interact with any AR features that would send data to Niantic. A dev diary should have covered the issue to better communicate why the feature was being included in an attempt to inform players and possibly allay fears of abuse.

12/24 Update: To highlight one quote:

“As part of that goal, we’ll be reevaluating some of the bonuses we’ve maintained over the last couple of Seasons—namely Incense effectiveness while stationary and increased Remote Raid damage. You may have noticed special bonuses during recent Community Day events that incentivized socializing or in-person raids. In a similar vein, we want to encourage Trainers around the world to get out and explore by trying out different Seasonal bonuses.”

This is nothing new. It’s similar to the recent, last-minute tweet some people received the day of December 2021’s Community Day weekend.

By releasing one-sided PR/marketing speech or issuing announcements rather than attempting real communication with players, Niantic is only preparing to repeat its past mistakes. We’re hoping a third dev diary will finally get the format correct, but further attempts to ignore community concerns with sales tactics may lead to less engagement, not more.

Massively OP’s Andrew Ross is an admitted Pokemon geek and expert ARG-watcher. Nobody knows Niantic and Nintendo like he does! His Massively on the Go column covers Pokemon Go as well as other mobile MMOs and augmented reality titles!
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