Pokemon Go update: Niantic explains why it removed players' favourite features

The tracking features were removed for players' own good, Pokemon Go's makers said

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 02 August 2016 11:45 BST
A girl sporting a 'Pikachu' hat looks at her friend as she uses the Pokemon Go application during a mass gathering in Madrid on July 28, 2016
A girl sporting a 'Pikachu' hat looks at her friend as she uses the Pokemon Go application during a mass gathering in Madrid on July 28, 2016 (PEDRO ARMESTRE/AFP/Getty Images)

The makers of Pokemon Go have explained why they released a disastrous update this week.

After month of huge success, developers Niantic have released the first major update to the game. But despite bringing a whole host of new features, the rollout has gone terribly – with many people threatening to quit, requesting refunds and complaining that some of the game’s most central features are now broken.

Many of those complaints revolve around the removal of the “step counter”, which was used to measure how far away a Pokemon was. That was a useful tracking tool, helping people find Pokemon that they hadn’t yet caught that were nearby.

Before that was removed, the feature was already broken, and wasn’t actually showing the information it was intended to.

In the absence of the tracking feature, many people turned to third-party apps. Those, too, were broken in the latest update.

The two changes provoked the ire of many of Pokemon Go’s most hardcore users, who complain that they now have no way of finding the creatures they’re looking for.

Pokemon Go update: All you need to know

The developers have now attempted to explain those changes, arguing that they were made for the good of players.

“We have removed the ‘3-step’ display in order to improve upon the underlying design,” the team wrote on Facebook. “The original feature, although enjoyed by many, was also confusing and did not meet our underlying product goals. We will keep you posted as we strive to improve this feature.”

More than being “confusion”, the feature had entirely broken in recent weeks. It was that problem that led many to the third-party apps that have also been banned, since the tracking tool was the only official way of finding creatures – and just showed three steps for every Pokemon, no matter how far away they were.

The company said that those third-party apps had ben banned because they were causing a problem for people playing the game in the standard ways.

“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,” the team wrote.

“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).”

The company said that it appreciated the various messages that it was receiving from angry people who were upset that features had broken – or that they’d never got access to them in the first place.

“We have read your posts and emails and we hear the frustration from folks in places where we haven’t launched yet, and from those of you who miss these features,” the team wrote. “We want you to know that we have been working crazy hours to keep the game running as we continue to launch globally.

“If you haven’t heard us Tweeting much it’s because we’ve been heads down working on the game. But we’ll do our best going forward to keep you posted on what’s going on.”

Some people said that the post had encouraged them and that they would no longer plan to leave the game.

Pokemon Go: First person to catch 'em all in the UK

“It was the lack of communication that was keeping me so frustrated so I'm very happy seeing this post today,” wrote one user who can’t yet play the game because she lives in Brazil, in the most popular comment underneath the update. “Keep trying to improve the game and I'm hoping that I can play the game soon.”

But others were still angry, and asked that problems with the game were fixed.

“If third party services were such an issue, perhaps you could choose one and partner with them to provide a reasonable tracking solution while we wait for you to fix the in game features,” wrote one trainer. “The game really is pointless in my area without Pokevision.”

Another said that the developers appeared to be making more of an effort to shut down rivals than to improve the service.

“The tracking system was working fine until you glitched it with your first update,” one of the most popular comments read. “Removing the footprint system feels more like an attempt to shut down the third party systems, rather than actually fixing anything.”

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