It’s a little hard to believe that we live in a world where a video game developer is struggling to stop people from trespassing on private property. It’s even harder to believe that the company is spending $4 million to settle a lawsuit regarding the issue.
However, that is exactly the position that “Pokémon Go” developer Niantic finds itself in over three years after the game’s release. The studio’s smash hit mobile game has, unfortunately, led to several issues with players trespassing while searching for Pokémon. Now, Niantic is taking measures to help prevent this from happening.
No Trespassing Allowed
Anyone who has played “Pokémon Go” is already familiar with Niantic’s “stay aware of your surroundings” message as the game loads. However, the studio is now taking things a step further to ensure that trainers are following trespassing laws.
The developer will now include a reporting system within the game for trespassers. Niantic claims that it will address 95 percent of issues arising from the system within 15 days. However, it isn’t clear exactly how the feature will work. It is likely that property owners will be able to send in reports of players trespassing so that Niantic can examine why they might be doing so. For example, if rare Pokémon are lurking in the area.
Meanwhile, the studio has also removed all Pokestops that are near residences and will continue to avoid those areas in the future. Both Pokestops and Gym markers will stop showing up inside public parks during the hours in which they are closed. Though this is a large undertaking for the company, it will likely save it some money in the long run.
All of these changes come after several claims stated that “Pokémon Go” encourages trespassing. While Niantic refutes these statements, it is still shelling out $4 million to settle a court case including 12 plaintiffs.
One Florida homeowner mentions that “Pokémon Go” players trespassed on his property “acting like zombies, bumping into things.” Since the game launched in summer 2016, it hasn’t been rare to see people running into things with their head buried in their phone. Of course, that happens anyway—especially if people are searching for magical creatures in the studio’s Harry Potter-themed game.
Still, this entire situation is sad from all angles. Primarily, it’s disheartening that people are so desperate to “catch ‘em all” that they are willing to break serious, real-world laws to do so. It’s also unnerving to see the individuals taking legal action against Niantic for the sins of its players. Ultimately, though “Pokémon Go” may tempt players to trespass, the studio isn’t actually responsible for their actions.
Nonetheless, in today’s sue-happy world, this may be the first of many cases where people take action against a company for how other consumers use its products. For now, “Pokémon Go” players should remember to always follow local trespassing laws. The good karma will pay off in the end.