Niantic announced last week that one coin event boxes will no longer contain Remote Raid Passes, and the reaction from the community has been overwhelmingly negative. The Pokemon Go makers have been rolling back many of the perks and bonuses that made playing during the pandemic easier, and none of these changes have been taken well by players.
Ending the ‘free’ supply of Remote Raid Passes looks like yet another way that Niantic is trying to change Go back to the way it was pre-pandemic. Unlike most of the bonuses, like increasing the range on PokeStops and extending the time that items are active, Remote Raid Passes fundamentally changed the way we interact with raids. Limiting access to them is a half-measure that won’t fix the core issue that Raids are experiencing today. It’s time for Niantic to overhaul Raids entirely.
It’s impossible to overstate how much remote raiding has changed the game. Long gone are the days of meeting other players near local gyms to catch a Legendary Pokemon. Now if you want participate in a four-star raid or higher, you need to join a raiding Discord server or use a third-party app to join a group of random people that could be anywhere in the world. These groups use either convoluted lottery systems to assign people to raids or a first-come-first-served system that ends up being more frustrating than its worth. The most popular app, PokeRaid, sells priority access to raid groups for a fee. This feature is so popular that it’s difficult to find an open raid group to join without using it. If you care about catching Legendaries, you’re probably using these resources already.
If you’re not willing to go outside of Pokemon Go to look (and pay) for raids, you probably just aren’t doing high-level raids. Accessing the raids themselves isn’t an issue as every gym will become a raid multiple times per day, but gathering groups of players together to participate in them is. Despite being overly complicated and expensive, worldwide remote raiding has made local raiding virtually impossible.
Where you live has a huge impact on the availability and quality of raid opportunities, but in my experience there never anyone around to raid with anymore. Even during Raid Hours when players are meant to be out in greater numbers looking for raids to fight in, the dozen raids within walking distance of my house just aren’t being challenged. When I head out on Wednesday nights to participate in Raid Hour in person I’m playing the game the way Niantic wants me to, but there’s no way I can raid by myself. Remote raiding changed the ecosystem and Niantic has to find a way to design around it.
Part of the problem is visibility. When I open up my nearby raid menu I can usually see five or six raids, but I have no way of knowing which ones other people are actually at. You have to tap into each one individually to see how many players. The most important information about a raid is how many other players are there, and this information shouldn’t be obscured. Just adding a number on the thumbnails for each raid that shows how many people are queued would go a long way.
The bigger problem is the fact that raids are anchored to gyms. What do you do if there’s a specific Pokemon you’re after and its currently in multiple nearby gyms? Your options are to stand outside of one of the gyms and hope that other players show up – which really takes the ‘go’ out of Pokemon Go – or stare at your nearby raid menu and constantly refresh both gyms to see which one people are show up to, if any. If you’re not willing to commit to standing near a single gym and wait for people, you’ll just end up using a remote raid pass anyway. The two-minute prep timer gives other players a chance to get to the raid and ready up, but how many of us can walk to a specific gym in two minutes? Unless you’re in a theme park or a city center, you probably have a five-to-ten minute walk between gyms. If you have to use a Remote Raid Pass anyway, you might as well do all your raiding at home with the PokeRaid app.
For an activity that requires groups of people to meet randomly, raids have become far too frequent. Putting them on a set time schedule each day might help encourage people to show up, but as the Raid Hour demonstrates, too many raids makes grouping up difficult. The only real solution is decoupling raids from gyms.
Raids should happen in places where people actually go, and they should take up a large area like an entire neighborhood or shopping center. Imagine a single raid that spans several blocks, available at the same time every day. All players within several miles should have access to one big raid, while Remote Raid Passes should be for raids you join around the world through your friends list. Raids need to be a lot easier to access if Niantic doesn’t want global remote raids to be the norm anymore.
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