Pay to Play

September 12, 2019 Renoir

Niantic opened registration for the UMBRA anomalies today. Among the changes, there is no longer a free ticket option for participation. Agents have to pay at least $15 ($13 to Niantic, $2 in service fees, and $? in taxes) to participate on-site or off-site. Off-site participants include members of recharge rooms, decoders, and intel operators.

In addition to paying the $15, Agents participating on-site will need to hack at least 13 anomaly portals during the event to qualify for their rewards which include double AP, a medal, a report of anomaly actions, and to have their actions counted towards anomaly scores. Off-site agents will have to recharge at least one anomaly portal, submit a decoded anomaly code, or be verified as an intel operator by the POC’s.

While the rules make it clear that you have to pay the registration fee to be counted towards anomaly scoring, there’s several things that aren’t as clear:

  • Since agents have to be registered to have their actions count towards the anomaly score, what effect will unregistered agents have on the playbox? One example provided by redditor vlademonkey, “Portal has 8 resos and 2 weren’t paid for, what’s the score for the linkstar?
  • If an unregistered agent recharges an anomaly portal, will it work? Shouldn’t recharge room agents be required to have their actions count towards the anomaly score the same way on-site agents have to?
  • Will Niantic representatives, and characters, appear on-site? Or, as one agent has described it, are anomalies becoming, “self-service like a First Saturday with an entry fee?”
  • Do POC’s have to pay the registration fee? Seems a little unfair that Niantic is going to make the agents who do all the planning pay to participate.
  • What happens if an unregistered agent decodes and submits an anomaly code? Does that mean the code can’t be redeemed by a registered agent?
  • Redditor Cuznatch wonders, “My question is will satellites be cheaper, or have staff and niantic actually do something for them now?

While most agents agree that $15 isn’t overly expensive for most on-site participants, the change to the pricing strategy will probably have an effect on the size and effectiveness of recharge rooms. Recharge rooms have been controversial for a while. Niantic previously denied badges to recharge room participants after one event where Niantic discovered that POC’s were inappropriately awarding recharge room badges. The decision by Niantic led to a successful campaign, led by Enlightened agents, in social media, #rechargeisfamily, that forced Niantic to reinstate badges for recharge room participants. It’s unclear at this time if the registration fee will result in a similar outcry.

Many agents agree that making this announcement one month before the anomaly is unfair. The date and locations were announced six months ago and many agents have already made plans based off the assumption that there would be free options available. Changing the rules this late in the game has angered a lot of agents who have already made travel plans. As redditor blumster put it, “Calvinball is annoying but calvinball with people’s wallets is another level of bullshit.