Niantic’s games face backlash over price hike in some regions

Niantic, the developer of popular mobile games such as Pokémon GO, Ingress and Pikmin Bloom, has announced that it will increase the in-game currency prices in some regions around the world, starting from October 5, 2022. The reason for this change is due to the adjustments in App Store price tiers, which affect the territories that use the Euro currency and several other countries. However, Niantic has also decided to apply the same price increase to other mobile platforms, such as Android, which has sparked criticism and disappointment from many players.

How much will the prices increase?

According to Niantic’s blog post, the following countries and regions will be affected by the price increase:

  • Territories that use the Euro currency
  • Chile
  • Egypt
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Pakistan
  • Poland
  • South Korea
  • Sweden
  • Vietnam

In Vietnam, the price increase also reflects new regulations for Apple to collect and remit applicable taxes, being value added tax (VAT) and corporate income tax (CIT) at 5% rates respectively.

Niantic’s games face backlash over price hike in some regions
Niantic’s games face backlash over price hike in some regions

The exact amount of the price increase will vary depending on the game and the item. For example, in Pokémon GO, a single Remote Raid Pass will cost 195 PokéCoins instead of 100, and a three-pack of Remote Raid Passes will cost 525 PokéCoins instead of 250. In Pikmin Bloom, a single Flower Pot will cost 195 Pikmin Seeds instead of 100, and a three-pack of Flower Pots will cost 525 Pikmin Seeds instead of 250. In Ingress, a single Key Locker will cost €9.99 instead of €4.99.

Niantic has not provided a detailed breakdown of the price changes for each item and region, but a document titled “App Store Price Tier Updates October 2022”, published by Apple, shows the new prices for different currencies and tiers.

How have the players reacted?

As expected, many players have expressed their dissatisfaction and frustration over the price hike, especially for the Android users who feel that they are paying for Apple’s changes. Some players have accused Niantic of being greedy and unfair, and have threatened to boycott or quit the games altogether. Others have pointed out that the price increase will make the games less accessible and inclusive for people with low income or disabilities.

On social media platforms such as Twitter and Reddit, players have shared their opinions and experiences with the price hike. Here are some examples:

  • “This is ridiculous. I’m an Android user and I don’t see why I should pay more because of Apple’s decisions. Niantic is alienating their loyal fanbase and making their games less enjoyable.”
  • “I’m from Chile and this price increase is absurd. The minimum wage here is about $400 USD per month and now they want us to pay almost $2 USD for a single raid pass? That’s more than a meal. Niantic is out of touch with reality.”
  • “I have a physical disability that prevents me from walking long distances or going outside often. Remote raids were a lifesaver for me because they allowed me to participate in events and catch rare Pokémon without risking my health. Now they are doubling the price and limiting the daily participation. This is discrimination against people with disabilities.”

What is Niantic’s response?

Niantic has not issued any official statement or apology regarding the price hike, other than their initial blog post. They have said that they will not take any immediate action in response to these changes, but will monitor the impact and then navigate these changing conditions globally.

However, some players have reported that they have received emails from Niantic’s customer support team, offering them some compensation or explanation for the price hike. For example, one player from Poland said that they received an email with 500 PokéCoins and a message saying that the price increase was due to “the current economic situation” in their country. Another player from Japan said that they received an email with 500 Pikmin Seeds and a message saying that the price increase was due to “the fluctuation of exchange rates” in their region.

It is unclear whether these emails are genuine or part of a phishing scam, as Niantic has not confirmed or denied their authenticity. Some players have speculated that these emails are only sent to selected players who have contacted Niantic’s support team or spent a lot of money on the games.

What are the implications for the future of Niantic’s games?

The price hike has raised some questions and concerns about the future of Niantic’s games, especially Pokémon GO, which is the most popular and profitable one. Some players have wondered whether the price hike will affect the quality and quantity of the content and features that Niantic provides for the games. Will Niantic invest more in improving the gameplay, fixing the bugs, adding new modes and events, and listening to the feedback from the players? Or will Niantic focus more on maximizing their profits, exploiting the players’ addiction, and ignoring the issues and complaints?

Some players have also questioned whether the price hike will affect the player base and the community of Niantic’s games. Will the price hike drive away some players who cannot afford or justify the new prices? Will the price hike create a gap or a conflict between the players who can pay and the players who cannot? Will the price hike discourage some players from participating in social activities such as raids, battles, and missions?

These are some of the questions that Niantic will have to answer in the coming days and weeks, as they face the backlash and the consequences of their decision. Whether they will be able to retain their loyal fans and attract new ones remains to be seen.

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