Niantic is once again focusing on real-world play for Pokémon Go, and fans are concerned

The focus hasn't shifted, but the wording is suspect.

Pokémon Go
Image by Niantic

Niantic has always kept the “real-world” element of Pokémon Go as a focus when working on new projects for the game, and the developers are once again showing that commitment—much to the concern of some players. 

In a new blog post, the developers specifically talked about sharing a “renewed commitment to bolstering Pokémon Go’s in-person experience” throughout coming updates in 2023 and beyond. This starts with the return of Elite Raids featuring Regidrago this weekend, with Niantic going into more detail. 

The Elite Raids are the “first step” in a new wave of content that will push the real-world approach using new or unique Pokémon. Other changes being worked on include more improvements for players participating in raids in-person, general enhancements to the game when playing the game with others in a physical location, and other benefits or boosted encounters with Pokémon for “exploring outside.”

This wording has some fans worried that even more content or features added over the last three years of Pokémon Go’s development through the COVID pandemic will be removed, essentially worsening the game’s experience for players who are trying to play remotely or are not as active with in-person content. 

One such concern is already well documented, with a recent slip in the game’s backend that revealed Niantic might limit the number of Remote Raids players can access in a single day. This has led to growing ire from the community, especially when some prices in the in-game shop have increased since then—leading to talks of general boycotts for the game. 

Niantic goes on to talk about the Campfire app and how it will be improved to better help Pokémon Go players connect and build local communities with chats and raids, along with the growing Community Ambassador Program. But the community feel from this update’s messaging appears to be resigned concern about potential negative changes being made. 

“I don’t blame them for wanting to be committed to making the game appealing to play outside/IRL,” Reddit user krispyboiz said. “I just hope they’ll add incentives and enhance such play rather than nerfing other methods of play.”

Related: How to complete Pokémon GO’s Festival of Colors 2023 Collection Challenge

Outside of the looming Remote Raid nerf, the wording around Elite Raids here also has some players eyeing Niantic as the possibility of new Pokémon, especially Legendary Pokémon, being added as limited-time raid exclusives is becoming a much more realistic possibility. 

Not only that, but this brings up the continued argument against changing existing gameplay features that make Pokémon Go more accessible—as some players are worried about those in rural areas, playing on restricted schedules, or dealing with disabilities being slowly forced out of the community. 

“[They] continue to screw over rural players, disabled players, people that work odd schedules, parents, and anyone who felt that the changes in 2020-21 were overall for the better and increased enjoyment of the game,” Reddit user Curiosities said. “They could have incentivized in-person and rolled out features and community stuff without taking all of the improvements away.”

Hopefully, Niantic will listen to the community here and not tear down some of the features it has implemented over the last three years, but signs point to that not being the case. For now, we will just have to wait and see when an actual update is shared.


Cale Michael
Lead Staff Writer for Dota 2, the FGC, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and more who has been writing for Dot Esports since 2018. Graduated with a degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University and also previously covered the NBA. You can usually find him writing, reading, or watching an FGC tournament.

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