Last night, Pokémon Go maker Niantic announced it would introduce new ways to earn Pokécoins, its in-game currency used to buy items such as raid passes, as well as a slight bump to the overall total number of coins which can be earned each day.
On the surface, this rejig sounded positive. The idea of alternative routes to gaining the game's coveted daily helping of coins (which otherwise need to be bought with real-world money) is a good one. Right now, the system relies on placing Pokémon in gyms, and then being turfed out of gyms every day to receive coins when your Pokémon are defeated.
But a follow-up clarification from Niantic and a quick bit of maths suggests this reorganisation will instead work against most players. And while Niantic has said this new system will go through testing, it is being implemented as it stands for the game's entire playerbase in Australia.
Under the new scheme, activities will be introduced to earn extra five coins - for completing tasks such as performing an Excellent throw or winning a raid. To "balance" this, Niantic said, gym coins will be nerfed so you earn 1 Pokécoin every 30 minutes, a much slower rate than before. Overall, you can earn a new maximum of 55 coins per day.
While at first it sounded like the shortfall in gym coins could be easily made up through tasks, with five coins awarded for each one, Niantic clarified that completing tasks would only award you five extra coins total per day. This leaves the remainder to be earned via gyms, under a much tougher system.
Trainers, for the duration of this test period in Australia, you can earn 5 PokéCoins total after completing all the featured activities for the day! We'll be listening for your feedback during this testing period, and may make more tweaks before the feature is released globally. https://t.co/h6IuiTw6e7— Niantic Support (@NianticHelp) May 6, 2020
Quick bit of maths:
Currently you earn 1 Pokécoin every 10 minutes you defend a gym, up to a maximum of 50 coins per day. This equates to 8.33 hours of defending a gym per day for the daily cap of 50 coins.
Under the new system, you will earn 1 Pokécoin every 30 minutes, up to a maximum of 55 coins per day. This equates to 25 hours of defending a gym per day for 50 coins.
I'm not great at maths, but defending gyms 25 hours of a day is a huge leap from the eight hours currently - and which allows for Pokémon left in gyms overnight to easily bring their owners all of their coins in the morning. It also means you need to have Pokémon in - and be kicked out of - at least two gyms, every day, to ensure you gain more than 25 hours of defending every 24 hours.
Looking across the fan response on reddit and Twitter... none of this has gone down well.
There are complaints from rural fans saying they do not have the number of gyms in their communities to make the new system work.
There are complaints from city centre fans saying they don't stay in urban gyms long enough to make the new system work.
There are concerns from players in all settings that, instead of providing alternate routes to the daily coins total, this will only encourage the game's more aggressive players to double down on their gym dominating gameplay, freezing others out of gyms completely.
And there's a general feeling that 50 daily coins is a meagre amount anyway, one that requires two days worth of coins to afford a single raid pass (and completing a raid is one of the tasks you'll need to complete to earn five coins more).
Finally, there's the timing of all this. As many people are finding it harder to go outside, providing alternate methods to earning coins from home should be a positive step. Instead, nerfing gym coins without providing the ability to earn the same amount via alternative methods feels the wrong decision to take - and at a frankly astonishing moment.
Australia will see the new Pokécoin scheme enforced upon it "soon". Here's hoping Niantic thinks through these changes before rolling them out further.