Since being released in 2016, the mobile AR game Pokémon GO has been wildly popular among Pokémon fans because it lets them catch and battle Pokémon IRL. The Pokémon Company celebrated 25 years this year with its "Pokémon 25" celebration, even holding a virtual Pokémon Go Fest.
But it seems players are now less than satisfied with the game's recent updates and are holding a "Pokémon No Day" in protest of these recent changes. Why are players mad at Niantic? Here's why they're boycotting the game.
'Pokémon GO' players boycotted the game on Aug. 5 when social distancing features were removed.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as countries began issuing stay-at-home orders and common hangouts were temporarily closed to prevent the spread of the virus, Pokémon GO implemented new measures to allow players to continue to log on and compete with others while maintaining adequate social distance, thus keeping themselves and others safe.
These measures included remote raid passes so players could participate in raids without leaving home, increased incenses so more Pokémon would appear in one place, increased radiuses for gyms and PokéStops, and other bonuses. These greatly helped players continue playing the game.
It's been more than a year since these measures were initially added to the game, and as things tentatively open up across the U.S. and other countries, Niantic has begun rolling them back — much to the displeasure of the fanbase.
Niantic began rolling back these bonuses in September 2020 despite the pandemic still being very prominent in many places, and players were expected to return to the game's normal playstyle starting Aug. 1.
As the vaccine has not rolled out to the game's younger fanbase (only those 12 and older are currently eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.) and immunocompromised populations are encouraged to continue social distancing, players have aired their complaints with Niantic over this and suggested players boycott the game on Aug. 5.
This led to the hashtag #PokemonNoDay to begin trending on Twitter as players encouraged others not to open the app in solidarity.
At the very least, those boycotting have made it clear that they would like the increased distances for PokéStops and Gyms to be reinstated, arguing there are more reasons this would benefit its player base overall.
The increased distance offered a better opportunity for players with disabilities to participate at these locations because they wouldn't have to battle any inaccessible spaces to play, and it let autistic and very young players play without entering overwhelming spaces.
Thousands of players vowed not to open the app on Aug. 5. Pokémon GO saw an extremely successful year in 2020 following the implementation of these temporary changes, and it's currently uncertain if this will have a negative impact on the game's revenue.
At this time, Niantic has not responded publicly to the backlash from players, making it unclear how they intend to move forward with this feedback from players.