Pokemon Go Remote Raid changes prove Niantic is ruining the game

Zackerie Fairfax
Pokemon go trainer silhouette 5

Niantic has spent the last two years destroying a well-balanced Pokemon Go experience, and the recent Remote Raid nerf is the last straw for disgruntled trainers.

If Pokemon Go aims to make the player the protagonist of their own pocket monster adventure, then Niantic has made it evidently clear that they are the antagonist. Akin to Team Rocket, they have attempted time and time again to hinder a trainer’s experience, failing to protect the world (or their player base) from devastation.

I was born in 1996 – the inceptual year of the Pokémon franchise – so I wasn’t able to enjoy the first two generations. However, from Gen 3 onwards, I was hooked. I wanted nothing more than to be a real Pokémon trainer, and I even forced my family to refer to me by my trainer name.

So in 2016, when Niantic and the Pokémon Company announced Pokémon Go, my lifelong dream became a possibility… to an extent. While I played the game casually for a few years, it wouldn’t be until 2019-2020 that I became invested in PoGo and would pour hours a day into the game.

But Niantic has seemed hell-bent on tarnishing a game I’ve loved dearly, forcing myself and everyone else to play a specific way, ignoring tangible barriers that prevent trainers from participating in Niantic’s ideal experience.

Niantic ignores a select portion of Pokemon Go players

I think everyone who grew up with Pokemon in the early 2000s had the same idea of what it meant to be a Pokemon trainer. The anime and games made it evidently clear that a Pokemon trainer has to leave home and venture far and wide to experience everything the world of Pokemon has to offer.

But, as we get older, we realize that being able to constantly travel the world is a luxury most people can’t afford. Becoming a Pokemon Master is unrealistic, but it seems Niantic is still holding on to that fictitious reality.

And while this isn’t an issue for players living in metro areas, it hinders the experience for rural players. Players who have to travel an hour to get to their nearest gym or Pokestop. Players who can’t open the Pokemon Go app anytime to play because they don’t live in Niantic’s ideal setting.

This isn’t a new issue, as rural and disabled players have voiced their discontent every time Niantic rolls back an accessibility change. But Niantic has never acknowledged the rural player argument, leaving a large number of players feeling ignored.

So, for Niantic’s Pokemon Go VP Ed Wu to say Remote Raid Passes are a “shortcut” is incredibly disrespectful. It’s not a shortcut if the feature we are attempting to participate in isn’t readily accessible in our area.

Rural players are Ash Ketchum, stuck in Pallet Town. But instead of ditching our parents at the ripe age of 10, we have families, and 9-5 jobs, and adult responsibilities, and are grounded in reality. So it feels even worse when a multi-billion-dollar corpo tells us we can’t be Pokemon trainers because we don’t live in the right areas.

Pokemon Go Remote Raids were the last straw

It’s difficult to refrain from bringing up all of the features Niantic has removed since 2021 when talking about their most recent shortcoming. Especially when 2020 was Pokemon Go’s most financially successful year, and their revenue continues to decrease with every new removal.

But the most recent nerf – and likely most heinous – involved the beloved Remote Raid passes. These one-time-use tickets allow players from across the globe to connect and battle against incredibly strong Pokemon.

And on March 30, the devs announced that Remote Raids would nearly double in price, players would be limited to the number of Remote Raids they can participate in daily, and in-person raiders would receive better rewards.

This news was accompanied by a rather tone-deaf interview from Ed Wu, where the Pokemon Go VP, once again, talked about how Remote Raids and the 2020 accessibility features were never meant to stick around and didn’t line up with Niantic’s vision for the game.

But the fact of the matter is Pokemon Go has outgrown Niantic’s vision. They are selfishly handling the highest-grossing media franchise in the world. Their actions would be easier to accept if it were their own IP, but Pokemon was molding dreams long before Niantic was a company.

Niantic’s vision for Pokemon Go is ruining the game. It was at its peak in 2021. Events were fun. The game was easily accessible and lucrative, yet none of these features discouraged players from going outside. They only made it easier for trainers who can’t play in the developer’s ideal space to still enjoy the augmented world of Pokemon.