How To Solve The Loitering Problem in Pokémon GO
In a recent article I talked about respect issues with Pokémon GO players. I’d like to touch on the issue of loitering again with some possible solutions to solve the problem!
How does loitering occur in Pokémon GO?
If you’ve ever deployed a Lure Module on a PokéStop, you may have noticed other random players joining. The animation is shown on the map for everyone to see with the promise of more Pokémon to catch. This is especially alluring (no pun intended) when players setup what I like to call a Lure Farm. A Lure farm typically consists of 2-3+ PokéStops in close enough range so you can sit down and enjoy the catches from multiple lures simultaneously.
Some of these lure farms last for hours on end. Areas that do not have time restrictions have seen some lure farms that been going almost 24/7 since launch. A children’s science museum describes the “Poke-Problems” it is having as a result of a 24/7 lure farm:
The reasoning behind the catching mechanic in Pokémon GO vs the core series was the designers wanting it to be a swift process, allowing you to quickly catch a Pokémon and then proceed to your next destination. The music for Pokémon GO was designed to be upbeat and to make you want to move at a quick pace! So why put in an item that is completely contradictory to the ideology behind the entire game, which is to be on the “GO”?
Like with any healthy hobby, limits need to be in place. Let’s take a look at some limits set in Niantic’s first game, Ingress. In Ingress there are limits on how often you can obtain (hack) items from portals. There are also limits on how often certain items can be used (Flip Cards). With this ideas in mind, here are my proposed changes to get rid of the loitering problem.
PokéStop Visit Limit
- Allow only 6 visits to a PokéStop before hitting burnout.
- Burnout period lasts 4 hours, starting from your first visit to that PokéStop.
This is a similar to portal hacking limits in Ingress. 6 consecutive visits with a 5 minute cool down between visits will equal ~25 minutes total (close to the duration of a lure module). Due to the massive difference in player bases, I would be against adding items similar to Multi-Hacks and Heat Sinks as they would be counterproductive to the loitering issue.
Module Slot Cool Down
- Module slot cool down period of 4 hours, starting from when the last module was installed.
- Cool down period is global for all players, and is tied to the PokéStop where the module was installed.
As stated earlier, lure farms are the biggest cause of loitering in Pokémon GO. These changes to the module slot would ensure that even if a large group was dedicated to lure farming for an extended period of time, they’d have to migrate from area to area. This will alleviate frustrations from local communities as 24/7 lure farms would finally get broken up and we’ll actually see players on the GO!
Some I have pitched this idea to have asked, “Why 4 hours for the burnout/cool down periods? That’s a really long time” Aside from mirroring some ideas from Ingress, it was mainly to further break up lure farms not only from a specific set of PokéStops, but that entire area. Here’s an example: Say we set that 4 hour period to just 1 hour, what would happen? If a park area had multiple clusters of PokéStops, we’d instead see a rolling shift of players slowly moving from cluster to cluster, eventually making a perpetual loop. While this would get us closer to a solution, it would still be seen as invasive if lasting for an extended period of time (especially if the area is being disrespected as we’ve seen in some cases).
So lets make some changes and get players on the move again, Niantic! While putting limits on a no limit system is unpopular, hopefully it will put the player base in better standing with their communities, and stop the requests for removal of PokéStops from the places we love to play. Let us know your thoughts and ideas on how to solve the loitering problem in the comments.