Pokémon GO has been riding a wave of cultural popularity, but it’s the weeks now nearing a month after launch that are seemingly going to decide the future of the smartphone geocaching game. In the first major update to the title, Niantic has sought to simplify, streamline and enhance the Pokémon trainer experience. You can change clothes, transfer Pokémon easily and more. You can’t however, track Pokémon anymore. At all.
The three-step glitch has been present in the game for the past couple of weeks, transforming that “Nearby” tab on the bottom left of the game into a useless screensaver. The system used to allow you to track Pokémon nearby, with escalating numbers of footprints signifying the distance you’d have to travel to find them. Instead of fixing this though, Niantic has chosen to just remove it entirely. Which wouldn’t be as big an issue had they not also killed any third-party support helping you track rare Pokémon.
Hey guys. We wish we had some news for you
At this moment, we are respecting Niantic and Nintendo’s wishes.
Will keep you guys posted
— Pokevision (@PokeVisionGo) 31 July 2016
Pokevision, the website which would dynamically pull data from Niantic and populate your surroundings with the positions (and times) of Pokémon around you, was shut down shortly after. Its creator, Yangcheng Liu, revealed that the service would be shut down indefinitely to comply with orders from Niantic directly, after CEO John Hanke called it cheating. It’s clear that Niantic could simply be closing any website using its API against terms of service, with other services outright charging for the functionality Pokevision offered.
So it may be a blanket sweep of the entire idea, but Liu makes an excellent point in light of the update that accompanied the closure.
You don’t invent Marco Polo, get 80M players to join, then remove the Polo part and expect people to keep playing.
— Yang (@YangCLiu) 31 July 2016
And players are already voicing their anger at the weekend move. While some have simply voiced their disapproval via social media, others have begun seeking out refunds for in-game purchases. Surprisingly, many are getting their way too – which could just open up the flood gates for all sorts of issues for Niantic.
And frankly, it’s something the developer needs to address fast. Because as is, Pokémon GO is now (more than ever) a game of chance. Without the ability to even spit ball how far away a particular Pokémon is (or judge if you’re even walking in the right direction), hunting becomes far less captivating. And if your main hook starts sinking, it’s not long before it takes the ship with it.
Last Updated: August 1, 2016