Pokémon Go fans in uproar over potential daily remote raid cap

Pokémon Go appears ready to limit the number of remote raids each player can battle in a day.

This week, fans spotted a change to the description of the game’s remote raid passes – premium items introduced during the early days of the Covid pandemic to allow Pokémon Go players to take part in raid battles from afar.

That change noted players “can join {0} Raids a day”, with the ultimate number as yet unset. After word of the change spread, this description was then quickly removed.

There’s no suggestion Pokémon Go will limit remote raids ahead of this weekend’s Hoenn Tour introduction of Primal Kyogre and Primal Groudon.

Eurogamer contacted Niantic to explain the change and ask if Pokémon Go was indeed planning to introduce a daily remote raid cap. In response, Niantic declined to comment.

The apparent change comes as Pokémon Go prepares to roll-out its next in-game season, which is due to begin in a week’s time. Each season typically brings new bonuses and tweaks to the game’s format, and has previously heralded changes to the game’s remaining Covid-era bonuses.

The vast majority of those bonuses have now either been rolled back or integrated as permanent parts of the game. However, a long-standing remote raid bonus does remain to boost damage for players battling remotely.

When initially added to the game by Niantic, remote raids were designed as a feature which would eventually become rebalanced to once again incentivise in-person gameplay when it was safe to do so.

Three years on, remote raiding has now become a core part of the game – and, many players would agree, the most convenient method of raiding. For Niantic, the introduction of remote raid passes has also proved lucrative, and helped surge profits from Pokémon Go in 2020 and 2021.

There’s no way remote raids will disappear from the game entirely – but this likely leaves Niantic with an issue over how to continue encouraging in-person play going forward.

Removing that bonus to remote raid damage (in effect, making remote players do less damage than those in person) seems a messy solution, and one which would likely only lead to confusion over previously-accessible raid battles becoming too tough to beat.

Instead, I can understand why Niantic might consider capping remote raids to a daily limit – even if it is limiting its own profits in the process. The company’s core mission is to encourage real-world activity and interaction, and remote raid passes have always felt an awkard pivot away from that out of a very sudden necessity.

But I can also understand the Pokémon Go community’s angry response to any suggestion of a remote raid cap. It’s another example of the game’s millions of players wanting to play (and pay for!) the game the way they want, resisting the guiding hand of Niantic pushing them out the front door.

“This is gonna kill raiding in general,” one player wrote in response to word of the potential daily limit. “People hosting lobbies will not be able to find enough players to fill the raids, so they won’t be able to raid either unless the raid boss is easy to beat.”

“My local community died out a while back, wrote another. “This change will massively reduce my ability to raid, especially during limited time raid events.”

It’s a situation which reminds me of the ultra unpopular PokéStop interaction distance fiasco, which Niantic ultimately backtracked on. Will similar happen here?

Last year I spoke with Pokémon Go game director Michael Steranka about the future of remote raids, as the game introduced in-person only raid variants available after Community Days. (The game has also now introduced in-person only Elite Raids featuring ultra-rare creatures, as another incentive for players to gather in person.)

“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,” Steranka said at the time.

“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.”

Will remote raids be nerfed with a daily cap, or in another way? A higher price point for remote raid passes, perhaps? It’s likely Niantic is mulling its options – and we have a week until the game’s new season to find out.

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