Niantic took several large steps throughout 2020 to ensure that players could continue playing its games while most of the world was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This included changing fundamental elements in Pokémon Go that made it easier for players to participate in raids, events, and so many other aspects of the game that typically required a form of in-person action or participation. With many countries opening back up with the introduction of COVID vaccines and more people starting to resume normal activities, Niantic is looking at ways to do the same. And according to Niantic CEO John Hanke, this includes the company working to reimagine its old models and the new additions to promote new and safe ways to “bring people together again in the real world.”
In a letter written to the players, Hanke noted that this approach would be achieved through gameplay adjustments, in-game events, and an eventual return to in-person events for each of its titles.
“We founded Niantic to create a way for people to go outside, explore, exercise, and meet friends—both new and old,” Hanke said. “The pandemic meant a year of staying distanced. Although we ventured out when we could, we knew it was important to adhere to health restrictions. At home the siren call of screens (and the couch) was strong.”
Moving forward, Niantic is still going to have a focus on connecting with players on social media, but the in-person element of Pokémon Go, Ingress, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
Hanke notes that this change “will not happen overnight” and the various teams at Niantic are prepared to encounter issues with an elongated return to in-person interactions. This includes continuing to adhere to health restrictions in individual regions.