Pokémon Go has been a runaway hit since release, but can it survive critical features being removed from the mobile game? Niantic Labs released an update Saturday that fans are describing as the worst ever, and also blocked access to third-party sites that made the game playable due to broken functionality.
The 0.31 update for Android and 1.1.0 update for iOS was released to Pokémon Go late Saturday. This update removed the footprints of nearby Pokémon in the in-game tracker, among other changes. As covered by Inquisitr, 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, a “bug” was introduced on July 15 that made all Pokémon display in the track with three-steps.
This not surprisingly coincided with a dip in Pokémon Go usage. A chart from SurveyMonkey shared by the Pokémon Go News Twitter feed shows game usage slowly declining following the introduction of all Pokémon being displayed with three steps.
Users turned to third party applications and websites such as PokéVision and Poke Radar to help in their quest to catch them all. Niantic Labs CEO John Hanke ominously warned plays “might find in the future that those things may not work.”
His warning did not take long, as PokéVision and other apps were blocked as part of the 0.31 update to Pokémon Go.
PokéVision creator Yangchen Liu was obviously unhappy about his free website created to help players is now not functional. He posted a pair of pointed tweets via his personal Twitter account in response, but will comply, per the app’s official account.
“You don’t invent Marco Polo, get 80M players to join, then remove the Polo part and expect people to keep playing,” Liu wrote after the update was released.
He later added, “Thanks for the support everyone. Loved Pokémon since I was little, hope they fix this lil tracking issue they got here with Pokémon Go.”
Meanwhile, the official PokéVision Twitter account stated, “At this moment, we are respecting Niantic and Nintendo’s wishes.”
Worse, the scan range of the in-game tracker appears to have been reduced from 100m to 70m in an unmentioned change. This was discovered by a Pokémon Go Dev Reddit user named EarthlingKira. This halves the effective search area of the in-game tracking. The obvious effect is you are less aware of Pokémon around. How much that matters with the footstep tracking completely removed is up for debate.
Pokémon Go players are also complaining about an increased rate of Pokémon escaping PokéBalls and then running away while attempting to catch them.
In the article covering the Niantic Labs CEO threatening to block third-party applications, the Inquisitr reported the following.
“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.”
It appears that paragraph is wrong, as the situation is actually worse. This latest Pokémon Go update has not only blocked third-party applications, but also made the game even less appealing by removing or further breaking key features. Predictably, social media and community in forums, such as Reddit, are not happy.
Here are the patch notes posted to the Google Play store from the 0.31 update.
- Avatars can now be re-customized from the Trainer profile screen
- Adjusted battle move damage values for some Pokémon
- Refined certain Gym animations
- Improved memory issues
- Removed footprints of nearby Pokémon
- Modified battle damage calculation
- Various bug fixes during wild Pokémon encounter
- Updated Pokémon details screen
- Updated achievement medal images
- Fixed issues with displaying certain map features
- Minor text fixes
Will you still play Pokémon Go? Sound off in the comments below.
[Image via Pokémon Go]