Trainers, a concerning development has arisen in the world of Pokémon GO, specifically with the Routes feature. Since the first ban wave in September 2023, numerous players have found themselves unfairly banned from using the Routes feature, often without any clear explanation. This troubling trend not only frustrates players but also raises questions about the fairness and reliability of the Routes system.
Introduced as a way to enhance exploration, a Route in Pokémon GO is a predefined path created by Niantic, their partners, or other players. These paths offer an interactive way to explore the game world, with the promise of discovering Pokémon and receiving special bonuses along the way. Completing a Route is supposed to be rewarding, granting players a unique badge that features a custom photo from the Route’s start or end point.
However, the reality of this feature has been less than ideal. A glaring example of this is the case of a player who submitted a Route for approval over three months ago, when Niantic first opened submissions to all players level 48 and above. Fast forward to today, and this player, upon logging into their account, was greeted with an Account Warning. They discovered that they could no longer see any Routes near them, and the Route in talk was published. In contrast, their friend was able to view all nearby Routes, clearly indicating that the original player had been unfairly banned from using the feature.
This incident is not an isolated one but rather highlights a systemic issue with the Routes feature. Initially, players struggled to even create Routes. Then, as they began submitting their own Routes, many faced bans from using the feature altogether. In some cases, active Routes that had accumulated over 91,000 trips were suddenly removed and marked as Inaccessible Areas.
For those still interested in creating Routes, it’s important to remember the guidelines set by Niantic. A Route can be anywhere between 0.5 km and 20 km, but a distance of no more than 2 km is recommended for accessibility. The start and end points should be PokéStops or Gyms in popular areas like local parks, but those associated with special events or sponsored stops should be avoided. The Route should be a continuous path with a clearly defined start and end point, and it must not be used to display inappropriate or abusive imagery. When designing a Route, consider its appeal, such as featuring great views or interesting artwork, and ensure it is safe and publicly accessible. The title and description of the Route should clearly convey its theme and experience, like “A Quiet Walk Through my City” or “Tour of my Favorite Parks,” without including any personally identifiable information.
Given the current state of the Routes feature, players are advised to approach with caution. The risk of being unfairly banned, as demonstrated by the recent incidents, makes it questionable whether it’s worth engaging with this feature at all. Until Niantic addresses these inconsistencies and ensures fair treatment for all players, it might be best to refrain from creating or submitting new Routes.