UPDATE 8/4: The theories are true. It has indeed become more difficult to catch Pokemon in recent days, but this is a glitch, not an intentional change. Niantic said on Twitter recently that a new bug is increasing the likelihood of escape, and they are currently working on a fix.
Ever since the app was updated on July 30th, users have been flooding the Internet with stories about it becoming far more challenging to capture Pokemon than ever before, with some speculating that this was intentionally done so that players would be forced to purchase more Poke Balls from the shop.
“The game is literally unplayable now,” one Reddit user wrote. “It is taking me an average of around 7 balls for each encounter, and 75% of those end with a fleeing pokemon. The game is now an exercise in frustration rather than an excuse for exercise.”
It is becoming harder to catch Pokemon both because they frequently break out of Poke Balls and because missing now seems to occur a lot more often, and the Pokemon seem to jump around a lot more than ever before.
Of course, this is all anecdotal, and at this time it can’t be verified whether Niantic Labs actually did something to change the catch rate. But the complaints have become so widespread and overwhelming that it’s hard to believe there isn’t something going on here.
Some players went as far as to accuse Nianitc of trying to scam gamers by making it gradually more difficult to play Pokemon Go so that people are forced to buy items, with some on Reddit comparing the app to the claw game at an arcade.
“Niantic have basically become carnies,” one frustrated player wrote. “They’ve made a game not based on skill, not aimed at fun, but on trying to scam people into buying stuff. Pokeballs shoot off in all sorts of silly directions, roll on past into the distance, curve at random. After the last update it doesn’t feel buggy, it feels rigged.”
Especially vocal about these recent changes have been players in rural areas, for whom Poke Balls are particularly precious resources. For those who don’t live anywhere near Poke Stops, when running out of Poke Balls, there is no real way to get any more other than spending actual money.
The patch notes for the most recent updates have not made note of any changes to the catch rate, either meaning there really is nothing different, or Niantic was hoping to implement these updates without anyone taking note.
This is yet another problem to add to the seemingly never-ending list of complaints Pokemon Go players have had in recent weeks. There have been constant bugs, server crashes, and updates that actually remove key features from the app like tracking and battery saver mode. As a result, app stores have been flooded with one-star reviews, and many players have requested refunds for the money they have sunk into a game that did not meet their expectations.