Pokemon Go players have been up in arms all week over the latest update to the app. Although it appears to have smoothed some of the underlying issues out, the update also eliminated the game’s built-in “nearby Pokemon” tracker and forced several popular online third-party trackers to shut down as well.
The most popular tracker to go offline in the purge was Pokevision, but after a few days of silence, the creator of Pokevision, Yang Liu, finally decided to speak up.
Although Niantic, the developer behind Pokemon Go, considers these trackers to be cheating, there’s no question that players were getting a great deal of use out of them. According to Liu, Pokevision had over 50 million unique users and an unbelievable 12 million daily active users at the time it was shut down.
Keep in mind, this wasn’t even the only tracking app available, with plenty of others available on the web as well as on mobile devices. An enormous portion of the Pokemon Go community was depending on these apps.
Nevertheless, these third-party maps went against the spirit of the game in Niantic’s eyes, and so they did what they could to shut them all down. Liu complied with Niantic’s wishes, but he makes it very clear in his open letter to Niantic and its CEO, John Hanke, than he disagrees with the decision:
Half of the player base of Pokemon Go stopped by — and they didn’t do so to “cheat.” The game was simply too unbearable to play in its current state for many (note: many, not all). The main attraction wasn’t that they got to have an advantage with Pokevision, the main attraction was that it allowed them to play Pokemon Go more. This is what everyone wants — to play Pokemon Go more.
When we closed Pokevision out of respect for your wishes, and at your requests— one of which came directly from you, John — we trusted you guys fully in allowing the community to grow. I literally cannot express this more — we just want to play the game. We can handle the bugs every now and then, but please at least tell us you guys care. Yes, Pokevision does give some advantages that may be TOO much; but is it all that bad? Pokemon has survived 20 years — even grown, I would say. And Pokemon Go made it even bigger. If the argument is that “well, if you catch a Snorlax you weren’t supposed to find, but you found it on Pokevision, it might make you play less.” If that was your argument, I’d have to disagree! I’ll still catch a damn Snorlax even if I have 20 of them. Just like how millions of us have caught probably over 100 pidgey’s or zubat’s each.
Pokemon is everlasting. The same 151 Pokemon have been around for 20 years. If 80M people downloaded and played Pokemon Go within a week (before it even released in multiple major countries) isn’t an indication that no one can be sick of Pokemon, I don’t know what is.
Liu goes on to note that the App Store ratings have collapsed ever since the update, with Pokemon Go currently the proud recipient of a 2-star average on iOS. None of this is to say that Pokevision was ever a legitimate product—it’s hard to imagine any game allowing players to exploit it in this way—but Niantic is doing a horrendous job of communicating with the community.