Pokevision creator’s open letter to Niantic about Pokemon Go tracking

Niantic asked Pokevision to shut down

A tracking bug that upset one of Pokemon Go‘s prized features — knowing how close nearby monsters were, so you could go get them — led to the rise of Pokevision, a service that displayed Pokemon location in real-time in lieu of the game being able to do that itself. Pokemon Go developer Niantic asked Pokevision to shut down. It did. Then Niantic removed distance tracking altogether, though it’s meant to come back eventually.

While Pokevision did shut down its Pokemon tracking services, creator Yang Liu recently penned An Open Letter to John Hanke & Niantic about how Pokevision was meant to be a helpful tool bridging the gap between now and Niantic fixing its own game.

“We made Pokevision not to ‘cheat.’ We made it so that we can have a temporary relief to the in-game tracker that we were told was broken. John, at SDCC, you said that you guys were working on ‘fixing the in-game tracker.’ This made everyone believe that this was coming sometime soon. We saw Pokevision as a stop gap to this — and we had every intention in closing it down the minute that Pokemon Go’s own tracker restored functionality.As we waited more than 2 and a half weeks, the tracker was still not fixed. We noticed more and more of our friends leave the game; the only way I — and I know experiences vary here — could convince them to play was show them Pokevision, and say that “Hey, here’s a temporary remedy to the tracking issue — we’re still optimistic that Pokemon Go’s tracker will be fixed soon!”

Liu points to Pokevision’s success — a staggering 50 million downloaded the app and 11 million used it daily — as evidence of Niantic’s screw up in forcing them to suspend the service, even while Niantic offers no alternative. Fan response has been Swift, too. As Liu points out, “[a]fter disabling the in-game tracker and Pokevision, the ratings on iOs and Android Google Play store went from 4.0 stars to 1.0–1.5.” While it might seem egotistical to credit that to the third-party app going offline rather than the actual app getting worse, again remember that apparently 11 million people were using the app daily.

According to Niantic, such apps, “interfer[ed] with our ability to maintain quality of service for our users and to bring Pokémon Go to users around the world.” So either folks defer gratification until Niantic fixes in-app tracking and everyone ends up with a nice ‘lil game, or Niantic continues to burn good will by failing to get the app up to snuff in a timely manner while having put the kibosh on fans’ popular alternatives.

An Open Letter to John Hanke & Niantic [Yang Liu]

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