On April 6, following the nerf of Remote Raid passes in Pokemon Go, hundreds of thousands of players planned to boycott the mobile game in opposition to Niantic’s decisions, but was it actually effective?
March 30 marks the boiling point for many Pokemon Go players who were looking for one last reason to leave the mobile monster collectors. It was the ‘shot heard ’round the world’ – the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ – when Niantic announced the nerf to Remote Raid Passes.
After slowly stripping back some of the highest-praised pandemic-era accessibility features over the past year, this nerf sparked an outcry from players akin to the backlash from 2021. And like the response two years ago, trainers banned together to commence yet another strike, this time starting on April 6, the day the Remote Raid nerf was enacted.
And why wouldn’t they? In 2021, the boycott was successful in that Niantic reverted the changes made to player distances. So, why wouldn’t a louder, longer, more fierce boycott net a similar result?
A month has passed since the Remote Raid boycott started, and it’s time to look at whether or not it was Super Effective.
Pokemon Go player count shows little signs of boycott
One thing is for sure: the Pokemon Go boycott was loud. #HearUsNiantic was trending for multiple days in a row, large YouTubers in the community made emboldened videos on the subject, and a petition to revert the Remote Raid changes reached over 100k signatures. But did that translate to in-game statistics?
Well, no… not really. At least, not when looking at the data presented by ActivePlayer.io. According to AP, April 2023 had one of the highest average monthly player counts since May of 2022. And when compared to the month prior, the monthly loss was only a 0.50% drop, a negligible dip by Pokemon Go standards.
In fact, in 2022, there were four months out of the year that saw a greater drop in players without the assistance of a supposed boycott.
That said, there are numbers that seem to reflect the dwindling appeal of Pokemon Go. In February of 2023, Pokemon Go saw a nearly 50% drop in maximum daily players, dropping from 9.1 million to 5.2 million. This number has only increased by 100k or less since then.
What this shows is that, while the same number of trainers are logging on monthly, fewer players are opening the app at any given time during the day.
Pokemon Go raid stats tell a different story
There’s no concrete way to measure whether raid participation has actually seen a drop since April 6, as Pokemon Go doesn’t make that information publicly available. However, voices in the community tell a different story.
Several players have reported on forums, including Twitter and Reddit, that they have found it more difficult or impossible to raid without the assistance of Remote Raiders. Some have even claimed that the nerf to Remote Raid passes killed their local Pokemon Go communities.
There’s also anecdotal evidence from third-party websites and apps such as PokeRaid, Raid NOW, and Pokebattler. Before the nerf, Raid lobbies would fill up instantly, making it difficult for players to find active raid groups because of the volume of trainers raiding. Now, hundreds of lobbies sit empty, waiting for enough players to trickle in before the raid timer expires.
In fact, usage of these resources has plummeted if Pokebattler’s own stats reflect the state of third-party raid finders. From April 6-28, PB reported a 54% drop in users. The site normally boasts 200k monthly users – 800k during popular raid events – but that has dropped to around 108k since the nerf.
If players are to be believed, it seems that fewer players have been participating in Remote raids since the changes. However, in an interview with Eurogamer, Niantic claims a “successful increase” in in-person raiding.
Pokemon Go’s revenue is a headscratcher
Pokemon Go’s revenue has been a point of contention following the mobilegamer.biz report for April 2023’s top-grossing mobile games. While MG reported Pokemon Go raking in $34.7m in April – its lowest monthly earnings since February 2018 – Niantic refuted these claims.
In the same interview with Eurogamer, a Niantic spokesperson claimed the third-party revenue estimate was “incorrect” but didn’t dispute the claims that their monthly revenue was down. However, Niantic did state that their revenue for the same period in 2023 was up compared to 2022.
That said, Niantic’s annual revenue has seen a substantial downward trend since its peak in 2020. According to Statista, Niantic made $909m from Pokemon Go worldwide in 2020. This was followed by a slight drop in 2021 ($874m) and a massive drop in 2022 ($645m).
To put this in perspective, Pokemon Go’s revenue in 2019 (pre-pandemic accessibility changes) was almost $10m higher at $653m.
While Pokemon Go’s revenue may be up compared to 2022, that doesn’t matter when looking at the impact a boycott can have month-to-month. And if mobile gamer is any indication, the Remote Raid boycott could be taking a toll on Niantic financially.
So, with all of that said, is the Pokemon Go Remote Raid boycott working? No, not really.
In terms of monthly players, there’s not a huge difference when comparing March to April. Remote Raid participation may be down, but Niantic claims in-person raiding is up. And while April reportedly had the lowest monthly income in five years, it was only a reported drop of $8m compared to March, a loss that likely would have stayed the same with or without a boycott due to the price hike of Remote Raid passes.
Niantic also hasn’t budged an inch since making this decision. Where in 2021, they were quick to revert the distance change after receiving backlash. So, despite the community’s “best efforts,” all of the evidence points toward 2023’s Remote Raid boycott being a total flop.