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Niantic attempts to soothe uproar over Pokemon Go tracking system removal

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Pokémon Go developer, Niantic, has finally responded to fans angered about the recent update which changed up the tracking system in the augmented reality title so drastically. Although it did claim to be taking user complaints seriously and looking to address the issue, it seemed to mostly dance around the questions of the community, not answering anything in any great detail.

Though considering Niantic’s reputation as being tight lipped, this could be seen as a step in the right direction.

For weeks, players thought that there was a bug in the Pokémon Go app that made it seem as though every Pokémon was three steps away. Instead of fixing this with the app update, Niantic just decided to do away with the number of steps altogether. That means that all you know now about the location of your next capture is that it’s somewhere in the general vicinity.

Although initially thought to be due to safety concerns, as geolocation seems to often come with rather alarming side effects, Niantic’s statement seems to clear that up and suggest that the tracking feature was “confusing,” to players and that it “did not meet [Niantic’s] underlying product goals.”

The Facebook post assured users that the team would be continuing to look at the system, and re-implement it with improvements.

Another thing fans were upset about was how the update shut down some third-party Pokémon tracking sites. According to Kotaku, one of the most popular of these, Pokévision, which allowed fans to track Pokémon by reporting and aggregating information on where they caught specific Pokémon, shut down around the same time as the update.


Niantic did address that as part of its post, though it stopped short of claiming that the update was designed to take down these services:

“We have limited access by third-party services which were interfering with our ability to maintain quality of service for our users and to bring Pokémon GO to users around the world,” Niantic said. “The large number of users has made the roll-out of Pokémon GO around the world an… interesting… challenge. And we aren’t done yet! Yes, Brazil, we want to bring the game to you (and many other countries where it is not yet available).”

While other sites, such as Pokémaps and Pokémon Radar, still seem to be operational, the systematic removal of these sorts of sites and in-game tracking may present a potential problem for hardcore players. As Pokévision creator Yangcheng Liu pointed out on Twitter, the combined removal of the internal and external tracking features is going to make it hard to actively track Pokémon.

You don't invent Marco Polo, get 80M players to join, then remove the Polo part and expect people to keep playing.

— Yang (@YangCLiu) July 31, 2016

Moving forward, Niantic promised to try and improve communications with fans, even though staff were working “crazy hours,” to try and keep the game operational as more territories come online.

If none of that really answered questions you have, at least the latest update wasn’t all doom and gloom. You can now re-customize your character, even after you’ve created him or her. When it comes to battle, Damage Per Second (DPS) has been improved for almost all moves, which is said to make combat all the more entertaining. Lots of nests across the globe are now spawning different species, which is keeping things interesting for those who have been playing for quite some time now.

And finally, you can now save yourself from accidentally transferring your favorite Pokémon thanks to the elimination of the transfer button from the bottom of the game’s details screen.

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Updated on 8-2-2016 by Jon Martindale: Added Niantic response.

Updated on 8-1-2016 by Mike Epstein: added reports about third-party trackers being shut down.

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