Niantic is the master of drip information, and most of it is both poor and incomplete, which is why we relegate most Pokemon GO news to monthly event roundups here in Massively on the Go. Those who have been following our April guide or social media won’t be terribly surprised by this, but Niantic once again made the tone-deaf decision to follow-through on it plan to nerf remote raid passes starting tomorrow, April 6th, 2023 – and it’s being met with the expected fan backlash.
But unlike 2021’s #HearUsNiantic/Pokemon No movement, this protest isn’t being led by various influencers. In fact, many of those influencers have barely uttered a negative word since the success of the last movement. Instead, it’s been a community effort, with the Pokeminers probably being the loudest and most well-known voice of the movement (though our favorite PvP analyst JRE is up there too). They’re hardly alone, though; Niantic’s even being roasted by none other than The Goodyear Blimp.
Unfortunately we're not able to physically make it to San Francisco for this event and we've already hit our daily limit on remote blimp passes. We'll trade you a Drifblim though!
— Goodyear Blimp (@GoodyearBlimp) April 5, 2023
Throughout my social media feeds and POGO groups, I’ve seen not one but two rather big petitions against the changes, which will nearly double the cost of the Remote Raid Passes while limiting their use to five per day. While few people buy tons of Remote Raid Passes and do more than five remote raids a day, the change does prevent online communities from helping players in remote areas of the world, players with disabilities, players with off hours, players with toxic local communities, and many more who rely on them to complete raids.
Niantic’s Edward Wu tried to justify the changes in a recent interview; he’s traditionally been open and honest with the community, but the promises of more in-person bonuses to raids coming this summer rather than now, either with or before the remote raids, shows a complete misunderstanding of what it means to lead a community. Nerfing remotes instead of promoting in-person raiding punishes players instead of guides them.
Niantic being a mess isn’t new at all. The remote raid issue is just part of a very long string of failures that have been gathering between daily and weekly since fall 2022: frequent lack of comms and miscommunications, game- and event-breaking bugs, elite raids (followed by shabby apologies and no make-up), broken promises, faked data (since 2016), violating security settings to broadcast players’ real-time locations, the disastrous Hoenn Tour… the list goes on.
This is a company that couldn’t even fulfill its own bi-monthly dev diary promise in terms of quality or cadence, and now it’s stated that it’s not selling “individual” user data as if that negates the fact that it’s happily compiling and profiting off our collective data, and we’ve known about this basically since launch. This is the whole reason Niantic wants to push people into social spaces, generating new consumer data for it to sell – even when new COVID variants were peaking. We’ve seen this repeatedly: Niantic cares more about data collection than public safety. The remote raid issue – and how it affects a wide swath of players – is just one more casualty of that naked greed.
— sylveon fan // TL 42 (@1Lstgermain) March 30, 2023
So what can players do beyond signing petitions? A “strike” has been going around, but in all honesty, that won’t do much. Unless you buy a lot from Niantic already, it won’t make much of a dent, especially because as we noted, Niantic makes most of its money off your user data, not from direct in-app purchases. Here are a few ideas in order of impact:
- Uninstall the app. It’s the cleanest way to deny the company your data, but I know not everyone is up for that.
- Turn off Adventure Sync. This is how Niantic gathers data even when the app isn’t open. You could at least starve it of extra data. While I do a lot of walking in rural areas, I do have a few trips I plan on making soon, and I will be shutting off Adventure Sync while driving at the least.
- Raid less. The strikers aren’t 100% wrong. Niantic leadership often seem like computers, interpreting player metrics in only the most basic of ways. If raiding, especially in-person raiding, drops, the suits will see a negative impact from the change. Remember, the next Elite Raid is on Easter Sunday, and it’s just a collector’s ‘mon. If you really want it, consider skipping Saturday raids so you get two free passes for Sunday and just do those, if you can find a group/don’t suffer from bugs like last time.
- Send fewer Remote Raid invites. For some of us, this goes with #3 in that we can’t do raids without our fellow remote raiders. However, remember that each remote raider is now giving Niantic twice the currency as previously. My lobbies often had two to five additional players, even when I had local support, and I’m a daily raider. I’ll miss some of you for a bit, but it’s something I’ll be doing.
- Hit ’em in the data. Ever read the privacy FAQ? It may be hard to complain about how Niantic handles your data if you don’t have a lot of knowledge of rules, regulations, and so forth, but at the least, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and request your data. If enough people start requesting it, it’ll show the company leads that people are on to them. Smart players may be able to challenge some of these practices, but for most of us, all this will do is hit them in a place they won’t be expecting.
4/28 Update: Should you choose this path, specify that you want your Pokemon GO data. I had sent a few questions prior to a data request and, like most of Niantic in general, the team members there were robotic and inept. As the process takes about 30 days (everything is sent digitally at no cost to you), feel free to contact them at email@example.com to put in a request.
- Ping other related companies when complaining on social media. Remember, Niantic doesn’t have a lot of successful titles in its own portfolio. And it uses other companies’ IPs, so given the upcoming Marvel game and unannounced Nintendo games, your show of displeasure with Niantic could help signal to those partners (and other potential companies) that Niantic is screwing up. You could also jump into tangentially related official posts by The Official (English) Pokemon Twitter account and bring concerns there. This is a common tactic used by various Pokemon communities to bring attention to their issues, such as recent issues with a Pokemon TCG judge making unwanted comments and stalking trans participants. The impact may be minimal, but it does help raise community awareness.
I’m personally not expecting much. Niantic as a company has a tremendous amount of lost trust to rebuild, so taking some sort of action against it seems not only deserved at this point but required.