Niantic Labs has stepped up the communication with Pokémon GO fans following complaints from the community. The developer put out a flurry of information Thursday concerning the health of the Android and iOS game, why third-party apps were blocked, what bugs are being worked on, and plans to deal with cheaters.
Niantic Labs decision to block third-party apps like PokéVision and Poke Radar remains controversial. This is due to the studio’s decision to also turn off footsteps meant to represent distance to Pokémon in the in-game tracker as part of the update this past Saturday.
CEO John Henke defended the decision in a post to the developer’s website, explaining it allowed them to finally launch Pokémon GO in Brazil and other Latin American countries. He explained third party sites hampered Niantic’s ability to “deliver the game to new and existing players.” He also shared the following chart showing a steep drop in server queries that consumed resources following blocking third party applications.
The chart does not provide a complete picture as it only shows a period of approximately three hours. Additionally, the vertical axis is missing any unit of measurements to provide an accurate accounting of the impact. Still, Henke says this freed up the servers and his developers to focus on delivering Pokémon GO to fans along with fixes.
“In addition to hampering our ability to bring Pokémon GO to new markets, dealing with this issue also has opportunity cost. Developers have to spend time controlling this problem vs. building new features. It’s worth noting that some of the tools used to access servers to scrape data have also served as platforms for bots and cheating which negatively impact all Trainers. There is a range of motives here from blatant commercial ventures to enthusiastic fans but the negative impact on game resources is the same.”
Two bugs currently being targeted were introduced in the last Android and iOS update. The Inquisitr noted the XP bonus that came from catching Pokémon with a “Nice,” “Great,” “or “Excellent” throw was removed. Additionally, players have complained of an increased rate of Pokémon escaping PokéBalls and then running away while attempting to catch them. Niantic shared a Twitter post via the official Pokémon GO account stating it was working on a fix for both.
Pokémon GO also has an issue with cheaters. While there have been reports of players reaching higher levels than should be possible at this point and receiving legendary Pokémon, GPS spoofers have turned into a real issue. These are individuals who use software to trick their phone into thinking it is somewhere it is actually not so they can farm PokéStops, take over multiple gyms, and find rare Pokémon nests with little to no effort.
This became an obvious issue after the Brazil launch when gyms were being taken over by players with Pokemon with CP ratings of well over 1,000. One Brazilian fan asked Henke via Twitter to ban players who used GPS spoofing in Pokémon GO and the CEO said it is coming.
The flurry of communication from Niantic is welcome from a community standpoint. Pokémon GO fans felt left in the dark for much of the game’s first month of release as Niantic Labs stayed head down attempting to fix the various launch issues. The studio has shown a much greater level of activity via its Twitter and Facebook accounts this past week, suggesting a greater focus on community management.
What do you think of Niantic’s plans for Pokémon GO and how it doing an about face on communication? Sound off in the comments below.
[Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images]