Pokémon GO: Niantic's response to #HearUsNiantic leaves players disgruntled

The director of the developers behind Pokémon GO said they are sticking with the decision made

Pokemon GO director Michael Steranka has broken the silence over #HearUsNiantic controversy, and players aren't happy. (Photo: Niantic)
Pokemon GO director Michael Steranka has broken the silence over #HearUsNiantic controversy, and players aren't happy. (Photo: Niantic)

The last few months have been rough for Pokémon GO, especially with the many bugs, issues, and changes that have kept the player community on the edge.

Since the beginning of the year, developer Niantic has been mired in controversy, with problems plaguing both face-to-face Elite Raids and the Hoenn Tour in Las Vegas.

Then, when it was announced that Niantic would be nerfing Remote Raids and raising the price of Remote Raid passes, it caused an uproar among the player community, with some even quitting and boycotting the game or making death threats against Pokémon GO community managers.

Because of this, the hashtag #HearUsNiantic became trending on social media, with many complaining that they feel like the dev company hasn't been listening to any of their concerns since. Some fans have voiced their frustration at feeling sidelined from a game they really like but are powerless to change.

After many weeks of the topic trending on Twitter, Pokémon GO’s director Michael Steranka and senior producer, John Funtanilla broke their silence about the controversy in an interview with Dot Esports.

Disagreements within the player base have been sparked by the decision to limit the number of Remote Raid passes on 6 April and by the plethora of game changes that rolled back many of the systems implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic that reduced the amount of travel required to participate.

Pokemon GO director says they 'have no plans to directly address #HearUsNiantic'

Steranka and Funtanilla were candid in their interview with Dot Esports about how they felt about the community backlash and how the rest of the team reacted to it.

“We’ve definitely taken note,” Steranka said, emphasising that he had been “tagged a lot in a lot of these tweets. He assured everyone that he and his team have not been oblivious to the protests over the Remote Raid nerf.

He also said that it was a “very painful decision to make, even for me,” especially since he claimed that he “used to do more remote raids than 99 per cent of readers.”

Steranka claimed that the introduction of Remote Raid passes brought forth “types of behaviours” that were not in line with the intended experience they aimed to establish.

“And I can honestly say like, even for me personally, it became sort of an unhealthy way to engage with the game,” he added, saying he can just “sort of throw money at Poké Coins so that I can spam legendary raids as much as possible.”

Steranka emphasised that it was a “super painful decision that is not something that [they] took lightly”.

“And so yeah, we have no plans to directly address any of the HearUsNiantic things recently, because we’ll be sticking with the decision that was made.”

Instead, Steranka says he hoped that players could see the team's hard work. “I think what we have coming out in 2023 is gonna really blow people away.”

Senior producer John Funtanilla also echoed Steranka’s words, saying that everyone in the Pokémon GO team are “incredibly passionate about the game.”

“Everyone lives and breathes this game.”

Pokémon GO players slam Niantic’s response (or lack thereof)

Many Pokémon GO fans have taken to social media to express their displeasure with the interview, claiming that Niantic doesn’t care about the community at all. On Reddit, reactions to the interviews were mostly negative.

“The fact that this interview was shared shortly before the shadow raid announcement tells me they really want any outrage to be buried by hype,” Redditor QuestionsOverAnswers said.

“We hear you. We don't care. That's the article,” Redditor Majik518 said.

However, Redditor _byrnes_ pointed out that it wasn’t that Niantic didn’t care.

“They also admitted they're doing this because people were engaging too much with the game in a way that was both profitable for the company and enjoyed by the community BUT not in a way that Niantic wanted,” they said.

However, they added that the company was “out of touch” with the reality of the situation.

Many were equally unhappy with the interview on Twitter, with some, like Nyt3Cor3, saying players should continue the boycott.

“With the way things are going with @Pokémon GoApp at the moment, and their refusal to LISTEN to the players that are MAKING them their money, the best option for us is to just [boycott until] they revert remotes to the original price, who’s with me?” they said.

Twitter user PokemnLola, pointed out that not all those part of the #HearUsNiantic movement “don’t want to go outdoors to play.”

“I’m out every day with my dog catching Pokémon,” they said. “However, what I cannot do anymore is to plan my life around Pokémon time-restricted events,” they continued, referring to raids, community day etc.

“And to be honest- the car-raiding that most players did in 2017-2018 was NOT more healthy than doing some raids from the couch with international friends,” PokemnLola said.

Probably the most disappointed players were the disabled and those who lived in rural areas. Twitter user Sleepy Snorlax pointed out that the timing of the news was "ironic."

"I didn’t realize this yesterday, but isn’t it ironic that we get Niantic’s #HearUsNiantic response on global #AccessibilityAwarenessDay?"

Popular Pokemon GO news and guides website pokemongohub.net also shared their perspective on Niantic's response to the #HearUsNiantic movement.

"Niantic has thrown multiple balls in the air, and we still need to see where it all lands," the writer said. "Maybe we get Remote Raids back next year. You never know."

So while Niantic has spoken up about #HearUsNiantic, it seems that players still think that their perspective was not considered and want the Pokémon GO developers to come up with a compromise.

Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.

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