Pokémon Go developer Niantic has said it has no current plans to remove the option of battling in raids from afar - a popular mechanic introduced in response to Covid lockdowns.
Some fans had feared the concept would be cut - as other pandemic-era bonuses and gameplay have already been - especially as Niantic recently announced a new in-person only raid variety, which will debut this weekend for the game's next Community Day.
"That's a unique experience that we're setting up just for these extra bonuses in Community Day," Pokémon Go game director Michael Steranka told me today, referring to the bonuses players will get to extend their local Community Day experience by taking part in the game's new in-person-only event raids.
"We have no intention right now of removing remote raiding for the regular tiers of raiding - one, three and five-star raids - but we haven't been shy about the fact we're looking at oppurtunities for players to get playing in person again."
Still, for now, Niantic sounds focused on fresh ideas to tempt players out, rather than rolling remote raids away.
"Our approach is generally going to be to introduce new functionality and features to promote [in-person play], rather than retiring remote raiding, which we know players have grown to love over the past two years," Steranka continued.
As part of a roundtable discussion, Niantic re-inforced the fact that the game's pandemic-era changes were always designed to be temporary, though some have since been confirmed to be permanent.
There's no longer any need to walk to play in Pokémon Go's PVP Go Battle League, for example, and a high-profile fan campaign around the game's location interaction radius secured that as staying, too.
"We definitely did everything we could to meet players where there were - where they were forced to be because of the pandemic," Steranka said.
"[But] Pokémon Go remains about exploring the world around you. I think unfortunately the pendum swung a little bit too far to having the complete Pokémon Go experience from the comfort of your couch. And that's just not where we want to be as a product.
"Niantic is a very mission-driven company and it's something we all value and believe in here - the importance of leveraging technology to get people out in the real world, interacting face-to-face, getting some exercise in throughout your day. That's definitely where our core focus is going to be over the coming months, but we will be looking at ways to encourage players to explore, rather than continuing to diminish the experience anybody has at home."
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