Niantic’s recently declared intention to better communicate with Pokémon GO players isn’t exactly going well. In the last week, trainers have realized that they’re all being charged different amounts for a particular item in the game’s store, without being told why. And Niantic’s explanation to us isn’t great.
As first reported by the inimitable Pokémon GO Hub, players started to spot that the prices of a Lure Module Box in the in-game shop were wildly different for different people. Reported prices range from 350 Pokécoins, all the way up to 700, for a box containing four different lures—used to influence the nature of a pocket monster’s evolution. The affair left players reaching for wild theories like superstitious pidgeys.
The real reason why different people are getting charged different amounts? It’s an “experiment.”
Back in October, Niantic told the community that they were planning on “testing minor gameplay adjustments in certain parts of the world.” According to a Niantic representative we spoke to, the Lure Module Box is one such example.
“In October, we announced that we’d be running more tests in Pokémon GO to improve our understanding of areas of improvements for our players,” Niantic told us. “This is one of those limited-time tests.”
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That it may be, but it doesn’t exactly represent the nature of the tests promised. The original statement explained, “we want to ensure the changes we make are beneficial to—and make a strong, positive impact on—the greater community, as well as each individual Trainer’s experience.” I’d venture they could probably guess that letting people find out they were being charged twice as much for stuff as their friend isn’t the most agreeable of situations. It’s very obviously a test to see just how much they can get away with charging for such an item.
The Niantic representative went on to stress to Kotaku that everyone was still getting a discount on the lures, which is a push, given they aren’t available in any other form. The box contains a Rainy, Magnetic, Mossy and Glacial lure, and since the shop doesn’t sell them individually, it’s hard to know if 700 coins (roughly $7) is good value. For comparison, a bundle of eight standard lures cost 680 coins.
“These types of tests are standard practice within the industry and help game publishers improve their games,” Niantic’s cloaked figure told us. But it seems they’ve also realized such practices are never welcome. “That said,” they conclude, “we’re aware of the upset that the difference in discounts and the lack of transparency is causing Trainers, and we’re taking that feedback into account for the future.”
It’s worth noting that such lures are not enormously vital to playing Pokémon GO, but are a great treat to get hold of if you’re after a particular Eevee evolution, or wanting to evolve a Magnezone or Probopass. Right now I could get the four for 400 coins, putting me at the luckier end of this whole nonsense.