Pokémon Go fans are boycotting the popular mobile video game today with a protest dubbed Pokémon No Day. The boycott, which has gained traction on Twitter, is intended to speak out against Niantic rolling back the game’s COVID-19 friendly updates.
As the world fell into a lockdown in 2020, Pokémon Go developer Niantic had to act fast. Pokémon Go used to require that players go outside and walk around to catch some Pokémon. However, with COVID-19 spreading, doing so became dangerous. To keep players playing, Niantic opted to make it possible to play Pokemon Go from home. However, the developer is now rolling back those changes, even as a new Delta variant of the virus spreads. Understandably, fans are not happy and are taking today to boycott the game.
Last year, Niantic rolled out a suite of features that made it easier for Pokemon Go players to play from home. The developer let players access raid battles from their couches instead of rushing to meet other players in a single location. However, the biggest change made to the game came to its Go Battle League. Previously, this feature required players to walk a whopping three kilometers to participate.
These changes, and others that let players access Pokéstops, are now being rolled back by Niantic. Speaking to Polygon, the company explained that “Going outside and spinning PokéStops and Gyms is important to our mission because it encourages exploration of the world. These locations are local points of interest in a community and could be historical landmarks, art installations, local businesses, and more.”
It's unfortunate that @NianticLabs has decided that the pandemic is over, that we're no longer in danger, and that the disabled folks who were finally able to take part no longer are welcome.
— Moon-faced Assassin of Joy (@NomeDaBarbarian) August 5, 2021
However, COVID-19 hasn’t gone away just yet. The virus’ new Delta variant, which proves to be more transmissible and can even infect vaccinated people, is currently spreading across the U.S. It’s worth noting that a majority of the victims of this version of the virus are unvaccinated, and that vaccinated people have a largely reduced chance of being hospitalized or being seriously ill. Regardless, the virus is still here and represents enough of a clear and present danger that multiple states across the U.S are reinforcing mask mandates. Some are taking precautions a step further, like New York, where in New York City customers cannot enter movie theaters, gyms, or restaurants without proof of vaccination.
Still, Niantic is determined to roll back its COVID changes to Pokémon Go, and as a result, players have started Pokémon No Day. For today, players are staying off the game, with some promising that they are dropping Pokémon Go altogether. For now, it doesn’t seem like the boycott is going to receive much attention from Niantic, with the reinstatement of former COVID-19 adjustments to the game increasingly unlikely.
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