Since Niantic Labs – creators of Pokemon GO – first released Ingress, it’s been a tradition for dataminers to strip down the APK (application file) and predict what’s coming next for the game. That’s carried on into Pokemon GO, and dataminers have now discovered that the scraps of code for pokemon trading previously scattered in the files have been stripped clean.
According to DroidReport, dataminers using a repository called POGOProtos, from a developer known as AeonLucid, found that between the last two builds of Pokemon GO, all code related to pokemon trading has been removed from the game. That’s not enough on its own to say that the feature has been pulled – speculation is that this just represents a code cleanup – but it is interesting to note that everything from trade ID numbers to pre-written messages about trading have been stripped out of the game.
Speculation has been that trading was supposed to be introduced to Pokemon GO long before now, and that various issues such as the failure of the original tracking system interfered. In point of fact, Pokemon GO Hub has speculated that the code’s removal is related to improving a variety of performance issues that have cropped up recently and is merely a removal of unused code to improve performance on both the client- and server-sides of the game.
Meanwhile, about two weeks ago, according to a report from GameSpot, Niantic CEO John Hanke promised that trading is on the way – and that “it’s going to be done soon,” confirming that Pokemon GO‘s early performance issues were the main reason it hadn’t been done already.
“It is what it is. I’ll take the massive wave of hysteria we enjoyed, and just deal with the fact that it’s caused us to take a bit longer to get the rest of the features up. We’re really happy to make our users happy.”
He also noted that while the “hysteria” had interfered with their plans, it had also made sure that the company would remain solvent. “Last year has funded us, you know, indefinitely, really.”
The Pokemon Company, on the other hand – which owns a share in Pokemon GO and actually publishes the game – said that early features were intentionally held back from the game in order not to intimidate new users. “It’s important to really carefully consider any feature that may increase the difficulty and raise the barrier to entry for more casual users,” said The Pokemon Company CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara.
This strategy may have worked a little too well; early adoption of Pokemon GO was unprecedentedly massive, but the game rapidly lost interest for players who had experienced the majority of what it offered on release, and minor feature additions like the buddy system were not enough to bring players back. As things stand now, almost a year after the game’s release and with a second generation of pokemon added, it’s still little more than a glorified pedometer, rewarding people for getting out of the house but not doing much more to maintain interest.
Hanke seems to agree. “The priority for Pokémon Go now is to build in features that reward co-operative gameplay, offering more depth than just the capturing mechanic,” he said, regarding what Niantic wants to do with GO now that the initial wave of interest has almost completely died out, with daily player numbers dropping from the tens of millions to, in some cases, tens of thousands.
Hanke says his “heart is really with events,” rather than expanding the features within the game, but admitted that new features (which will likely be sketchy at first, he says) are on the way. That includes the trading system, a PVP system, and, supposedly, a better gym system, something he says is a rudimentary version of the game that Niantic first envisioned.
Ultimately, the fact that the preliminary trading code has been pulled from the Pokemon GO app data may be a positive sign – it might indicate that Niantic is ready to replace it with something working.
[Featured Image by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images]