Pokémon Go has undergone a lot of changes over the past seven years, but the inclusion of Remote Raids and Remote Raid Passes have made the mobile game easier for players to participate without actually leaving their homes. However, it doesn’t sound like developer Niantic is thrilled about that. As such, it announced it will change how these raids and their passes work in an effort to quell their dominance of the game, and fans aren’t happy.
For the uninitiated, Remote Raids were introduced in 2020 at the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic as a way to let people play Pokémon Go while in quarantine. While raids were already part of the game, you previously had to be within a small radius to take part in the battle. The Remote Raid passes allow you to take part from greater distances. But now that people have gotten comfortable playing Go from the comfort of their own homes, Niantic is trying to course-correct and get Pokémon Go back to what it was in 2016: an in-person experience that required you to leave your house.
The changes to Remote Raids
Niantic laid out the changes in a post on the official Pokémon Go website, which confirms these alterations will go into effect on April 6 at 11 a.m. PT. This will include increases in the price of Remote Raid Passes, limits imposed on how many of these fights a player can participate in on any given day, and incentives given to encourage players to join these fights in person. The full changelog is as follows:
- The price of the Remote Raid Pass three-pack will increase from 300 to 525 PokéCoins.
- The price of single Remote Raid Passes will increase from 100 to 195 PokéCoins.
- A Premium Battle Pass three-pack will be added to the shop for the price of 250 PokéCoins.
Remote Raid participation limits:
- Trainers will be able to participate in a maximum of five Remote Raids per day.
- This maximum may change and increase for special events.
Remote Raid Passes:
- Remote Raid Passes will be included in the pool of potential rewards for Research Breakthroughs.
- Remote Raid Passes earned via Research Breakthroughs will still be subject to the existing inventory limit of three Remote Raid Passes per Trainer.
- If a Trainer earns a Remote Raid Pass from a Research Breakthrough while at the three Remote Raid Pass limit, they will receive a Premium Battle Pass instead.
- Purchases of Remote Raid Pass 3-Packs will still allow you to hold up to 5 Remote Raid Passes if you purchase it with 2 Remote Passes already in your inventory.
- Trainers who participate in five-star raids in person will earn more Candy XL than before.
Niantic’s write-up says Remote Raids have grown to “dominate the experience of playing Pokémon Go in a way [the studio] never intended.” This isn’t a terribly surprising move considering the studio has been upfront about the fact that it wants to recapture what the game was pre-2020. But it doesn’t sound like the vibe is the sole motivator behind the change. In an interview with Polygon, Niantic’s Pokémon Go VP Ed Wu said Remote Raids were giving players a means to circumvent other mechanics and transactions within Pokémon Go, to the point where it was becoming “unsustainable.”
“Remote Raids, frankly, have become a shortcut to playing the game, and we’ve seen an imbalance in the game,” Wu told Polygon. “The current price of Remote Raid Passes is distorting that economy and it’s frankly making the game unsustainable in the long term. So really, in order to continue to operate a game that is sustainable for years to come, we’ve decided to raise the price of Remote Raid Passes, in addition to having a daily cap.”
When Polygon pressed on this, asking if selling Remote Raid passes was somehow not just as helpful to the game’s economy as paying for Research Tickets or PokéCoins, Wu’s answer shifted away from the actual financial health of the game’s economy and into not wanting the social, adventurous spirit of Pokémon Go to be compromised, which he says is how it has maintained relevance for the past seven years.
“Like any other game, we have to think carefully about what are the most epic adventures that you’re having with the game, and that the value is just as much from the journey as it is from the ultimate experience, which is Raids,” Wu says. “So much of the value that folks get out of Pokémon Go is actually that social interaction — the walking, the exercise, the exploration that they do together. By allowing the shortcut to that [with] a premium raid pass, we’re actually taking away much of the value that is unique to our product and differentiates it from pretty much every other thing out there.”
Why are fans upset about the changes to Remote Raids
That being said, fans are rightfully upset by this, with some even claiming it could be what finally takes a wrecking ball to the mobile phenomenon.
Not even capping when I say this, the remote raid pass price increase could genuinely be the death of Pokémon GO.
— PoGOCentral (@pogo_central) March 30, 2023
While some players just want to play Pokémon Go from the comfort of their couch, for disabled players and those who live in rural or less urban areas that might lack PokéStops and gyms, this will fundamentally change how or if they can play the game moving forward, as many of them relied on remote raids to play battles they can’t reach themselves.
The Pokémon Go disabled, rural, and suburban player base when Niantic almost doubles the price of remote raid passes and restricts the ability to do remote raids: pic.twitter.com/ToFqjy9jdq
— Juno 🚂 (@jsketch12) March 31, 2023
As the video game accessibility website Can I Play That points out, the increase in prices for Remote Raid passes essentially raises an already established tax on disabled players who have only been able to get the most out of Pokémon Go by using these features over the past three years.
“It is just sad to see features that have an overwhelmingly positive impact on accessibility be reverted for the sake of a vision,” says Can I Play That writer Marijn. “A vision on gameplay that seemingly does not consider disabled players as equals.”
Speaking as someone who once lived in the very rural south, Pokémon Go was something I ended up not playing as much as I would have liked because I didn’t have many of PokéStops or gyms near me. If I still lived there, Remote Raids would have made it viable in a way it never was before. But now, these limitations are going to undermine people’s choices in how they play. I know they make Pokémon Go a much different experience than the one Niantic launched in 2016, but the world is a much different place, too, in a lot of ways. Even then, the struggles of disabled and rural players to be part of Pokémon Go’s community has always been a challenge, and it’s a real shame to see Niantic doubling down on making it harder.