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Pokémon GO former Niantic employee reveals Leadership and Product Managers routinely reject Quality of Life improvements

Hey, Trainers! Ever wondered what it’s like to work at Niantic, the company behind your favorite game, Pokémon GO? Well, we’ve stumbled upon an eye-opening review from a former Niantic employee that gives us a glimpse into the inner workings of the company. Hold onto your Poké Balls; you’re in for a ride.

First, let’s talk about the bright side. The former Niantic employee couldn’t stress enough how incredible the work environment was in terms of the team spirit. The people at Niantic are described as “lovely,” “kind,” and “helpful.” Plus, if you’re a Pokémon fan (which you probably are if you’re reading this), you’ll find yourself in a community of like-minded folks. It’s genuinely an energizing atmosphere, especially knowing that Pokémon GO still has such a passionate following.

But what about leadership? Ah, here’s where the plot thickens. Despite the pleasant work environment and passionate fanbase, the employee was less than impressed by the company’s leadership. During their year-long tenure at Niantic, the individual regularly proposed various quality-of-life improvements for Pokémon GO, ideas that were neither demanding nor costly, requiring no new art or designs.

And what happened? They were shot down. Every. Single. Time. And not by external forces, mind you, but by their own product manager or some business executive. What’s more baffling is that these rejections were not based on any hard data. Nope, it was all about a “gut feeling” that the new features would somehow harm the company’s bottom line.

What’s even more frustrating is the lack of opportunity for testing these ideas. Our frustrated former employee wasn’t even allowed to test their improvements on a small player subset to either validate or refute these so-called “gut feelings.”

Want to know more? You can check out the full review on Glassdoor, or check it out below.

If you’re a passionate game dev, avoid working at Niantic


  • People were genuinely so lovely and kind and helpful. Lots of passion from fans around Pokemon Go so many years later.
  • Great environment if you’re also a Pokemon fan!


  • Some of the most misguided leadership (especially at the exec level) and a lot of poor product managers. Working on a mobile game (no matter where you work) is soul-sucking. The entire premise of a mobile game is to intentionally leave in friction to make players pay to avoid. It’s scummy and awful.
  • I worked on Pokemon Go for about a year and I really do believe PGO is one of the “better” mobile games out there and it still made me never want to work on a mobile game ever again. Multiple times I pitched new quality-of-life improvements for the game that were small, easy, required no new art/designs, etc. And got stopped every step of the way by either my OWN product manager, or a business person, awaiting approval from partners. All of their reasons were also on “feel” no on any actual data to support the claims they made that my feature was a bad idea or would hurt revenue. They wouldn’t even let me test it on a subset of players to prove my claim.
  • This happened at least 2-3 times before I just said forget it I’m not coming up with, prototyping, demoing, and pitching new unique ideas at this company if they don’t want to hear my ideas. It was outstandingly infuriating.
  • If you are a game developer who cares a lot about making quality video games that respect and care about their players I don’t recommend working here or at any mobile game studio.
  • If you’re pretty indifferent about it but like games and Pokemon you might be fine here.

Advice to Management

  • Do, like, a LOT better. Pretend like you make a globally played product with tons and tons of players counting on you to make their favorite game good. Just because you lost favor with them a while ago doesn’t mean you should dig the hole deeper.

This observation aligns well with the general perception that Niantic often seems disconnected from the Pokémon GO community. The power to instigate change lies in the community’s hands, by playing less and remaining strictly free-to-play, players can send a strong message.

If you are a video game developer and you have a submission to make, you can mail us at

Dejan Kacurov

Hey there, I'm Dejan! Let me take you through my life, where family, gaming, and CrossFit play prominent roles. Since day one, I've been surrounded by the love and support of my family. Growing up, every moment spent with my parents and siblings was filled with warmth and laughter, creating memories I hold dear. As a parent now, I've experienced a whole new level of love and responsibility. My two wonderful kids bring endless joy and a sense of purpose to my life. In the digital realm, I found my passion - gaming. Whether I'm conquering the world of Apex Legends or embarking on adventures in Pokemon Go, gaming fuels my sense of adventure and competition. Beyond the virtual world, I discovered the exhilaration of CrossFit. The challenging workouts, camaraderie with fellow fitness enthusiasts, and constant drive to push my limits have become an integral part of my life. Balancing family time, gaming, and CrossFit has been a journey of self-discovery. Each passion complements the other, bringing fulfillment and joy to my daily routine.


  1. As a huge fan of Pokemon and by extention Pokemon GO, I must say that sounds very crappy if the bosses aren’t gonna listen to their employees ideas all because of guttural instincts. If anything, that’s just probably their stomach saying that they’re hungry, their greed instincts telling them to stay on course and hope things work out, or their pride into not changing. Not to mention seeing the players as fricken money bags where they should’ve been focusing on true improvements and what the community says instead of just using us as money! Either the leaders get their shit together and act like real people that care or Game Freak needs to look into a new game company that ACTUALLY fits the qualities that the leaders over look because “Mmm no~ my gut has a bad idea~”

  2. If that employee thinks POGO is bad, they should look at Niantic’s more recent money-grab, Peridot. You can’t even play it without paying real money. And it doesn’t have much for content. The main engine/goal is hatching peridots with $5 nests and paying extra to unlock new traits. Only recently have they made it a tiny bit easier to secure a free nest, but definitely not easy enough that you can advance without spending a lot of money.

  3. I think we all knew greedy execs who want to maximize amount of monetized content while ignoring anything that actually makes the game better for those who love it.

    It’s not for a lack of care from the devs and those with hands on keyboards, but a love of money from the microtransaction loving execs who ruin gaming businesses as a whole.

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