‘Pokémon Go’ May Block Apps That Detect Nearby Pokemon

Pokémon GO players may have already succumbed to the temptation to use Pokémon finder apps like PokéVision and Poké Radar. Developer Niantic is not particularly happy with these kind of apps and explained it may start blocking them in a recent interview with Forbes.

“Yeah, I don’t really like that. Not a fan,” Niantic CEO John Hanke told Forbes when asked about the Pokémon locator apps.

“We have priorities right now but they might find in the future that those things may not work,” he warned. “People are only hurting themselves because it takes some fun out of the game. People are hacking around trying to take data out of our system and that’s against our terms of service.”

Unfortunately, part of the popularity of these locating apps is due to the fact the same functionality in Pokémon GO is broken. It was within a week or so after the game was released that users discovered the “Nearby” functionality located in the bottom right corner of the screen was not working as expected.

Pokemon Go - Broken Nearby If this worked, Pokemon Go users may not be tempted by third-party apps. [Image via ‘Pokemon Go’]The in-game locator is supposed to use footsteps to show how far away Pokémon are from users. One footstep is approximately 10 meters, two footsteps is within 100 meters, and three footsteps is within a kilometer. The number of steps is supposed to change as players move closer or further away from individual Pokémon. Unfortunately, every Pokémon in the “Nearby” feature is currently stuck at three footsteps, making them almost impossible to find.

Niantic stated they were aware of the issue with the footsteps during a San Diego Comic-Con panel, but has not provided more information about a fix beyond that. There is conjecture among the community that the developer has intentionally disabled the “Nearby” functionality. If that is true, it is likely a stopgap method to deal with the overwhelming traffic on the Pokémon GO servers.

The unintentional consequence of this is it has encouraged Pokémon GO players to use third-party apps in their hunt to catch them all. This issue with the game is what inspired PokéVision creator Yangchen Liu, a University of Michigan neuroscience graduate.

Liu told Forbes in a separate interview, “It’s hard to play the game in its current form. Once you hit level 20 or something it’s impossible, especially if you’re in a rural area. Let’s say you live in some rural area, and you drove into another town expecting new Pokémon, but you don’t find them. You’d get angry at the game and say ‘what the hell this game doesn’t work!'”

Pokemon Go - PokeVision PokeVision showing available Pokemon around Santa Monica Pier in California. [Image via PokeVision]If Niantic Labs does take action to block or disable third-party apps working with Pokémon Go, hopefully it will not be done until after the issues with the in-game locator are fixed. The developer will likely face a backlash if it does block the fan created and free apps. However, it would risk a full out revolt and loss of customers if it blocks these apps while its own in-game feature does not work as expected.

Interestingly, Nintendo recently delayed the release of the Pokemon GO Plus companion device to September. This is a device that can be worn on the wrist and connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth. It notifies the wearer with an LED light and vibration anytime they are within range of a PokéStop to get items from or a Pokémon to catch. It even lets users catch Pokémon using the device versus opening the app on the phone.

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What do you think of the potential of Niantic Labs blocking third-party Pokémon GO apps like PokéVision or Poke Radar? Sound off in the comments below.

[Photo by AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File]