Pokemon GO tracking apps go dark allegedly due to Niantic

JC Torres - Aug 1, 2016, 6:30am CDT
Pokemon GO tracking apps go dark allegedly due to Niantic

Some market observers are saying that Pokemon GO has already reached its highest peak, at least in the US, and is at a plateau or, worse, already on downhill trend. That, however, might be the least of Niantic Labs’ problems. It might actually have a riot and mass exodus on its hands. If, as the speculation goes, it is flexing its legal muscles to not so quietly shut down apps and services that assist players in tracking down and hunting Pokemon in the wild.

Apps like Pokevision, Poke Radar, and a whole host of other Pokenames have sprouted up like wild mushrooms on the face of the Pokemon GO world. These range from simple crowdsourced apps to elaborate hacks that show players which Pokemon are where, cutting down the time to find the ones they are hunting form.

But no matter what technique is used, Niantic CEO John Hanke labels them all as cheats and warned that players might find that those stop working in the future. Well, that, dark for some, future is apparently now, and popular apps like Pokevision have been sending ominous messages that all amount to one thing: they are shutting down.

Unlike in most cases of cheating in games, the situation with Pokemon GO is a tad murky and gray. Disregarding apps and hacks that truly do cheat, not to mention “extort” real world money from players, some of these tools try to operate in good faith and with a sincere desire to help the Pokemon GO community. On the other hand, as Hanke suggests, these tools take away some of the core elements of the game, like discovery and exploration.

Complicating the matter is that these services sometimes also address things that are broken in the game. Trackers, for example, would lose half their appeal if the official in-game tracking system wasn’t bug ridden. As is the case sometimes, outsiders like programmers and hackers try to fill in the need that official developers have a hard time catching up with.

Of course, none of the sites going down are pointing the finger at Niantic, but players are putting two and two together. Or jumping to conclusions. Now that the euphoria over the initial outbreak of Pokemon GO is over, people are starting to ask the hard questions about the game, putting Niantic’s reputation at an even higher risk than when they first launched the game.

VIA: Motherboard


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9 Responses to Pokemon GO tracking apps go dark allegedly due to Niantic

  1. Niantic has enough problems with I/O pressure due to client volume that it doesn’t need 3rd party apps hitting its API with massive search queries. The “3 step bug” was them actually degrading the tracker due to I/O problems. It was written as a fat server app and while it could handle a few million chatty users simultaneously, 40 million is a lot more than anyone anticipated. I’m certain get are writing a major version that changes the tracking model for fat server to fat client, so your phone will get a local map with future spawns and moves in a compressed burst every few minutes and then the client will calculate ranges, movement and do all that other heavy lifting. There are also a lot of other features they will add, such as trading and PvP. Certainly this will plateau, but the franchise has one of the largest and most fanatical fan bases of any IP, and as long as they keep new features coming, millions of users will continue to spend $10 a week on pokeballs and incubators.

    • You’re right.. but the way to do that ISN’T to make the fanbase feel alienated so the casual player finds it too difficult to enjoy it. I already find myself getting left FAR behind to the point where there’s not point in acknowledging the gyms or any other players because I have a full time job and can’t power level like everyone else.

      Finding the monsters is what MOST players have and when you make that harder you lose the casual player. The game got huge because it was simple and fun. Take simple out and it’s a much tougher sell.

      • But they didn’t have any choice. It’s that or take the whole game offline while they rewrite the tracker code. My point is that it isn’t a bug. I’m a software engineer and I work with big data and there’s no way to know what’s going to happen to your performance in response to use activity unless you simulate it. They probably tested for 5 million simultaneous users and found that performance was acceptable. Now they’re dealing with 10 times their best case (or worst case I guess) scenario. Should they have said they were deliberately dumbing down the tracker to make the rest of the game playable? Maybe? As a Dev, I get it, but a lot of the same people who are angry now would probably still be angry (or angrier) if they were told it was intentional, quite possibly more. It’s a no-win scenario when you’re dealing with people who feel entitled to something, I guess. And you can take down just about any gym with six 800-1200 CP Pokemon; gym defense is a joke (and something that needs to be rethought imo). Just fill up on revives and healies and you can grind them down unless they’re there to actively train and restore gym prestige. And eggs work fine. I’m in the boondocks, and when I look at screenshots of cities filled with lured Pokestops, I die a little on the inside. Life ain’t fair is it?

        • I dunno what to say, but it sounds like what I mentioned this morning isn’t too far off. They’re refunding like crazy today.

          I agree a lot of the mechanics are broken, but what probably should have been done is kept players in the loop on what’s happening and why things were broken if it really is that simple. Instead of letting people think it’s a broken game tell them it’s more successful. My first thought on taking out the footsteps was that it’s broken and they don’t know how to fix it so they just took out the feature. I’m sure most casual players thought the same thing.

        • You’re probably right. They tweeted out something about the steps being taken out because they were confusing and they need time to fix this properly and they’re already working 28 hour days 9 days a week so maybe the fix will be out sooner rather than later if they can keep beating the devs and force feeding them chocolate covered coffee beans.

      • Also last update they shuffled the nests so you should be seeing some new Pokemon in your neighborhood.

  2. Oh no. So all the cry baby cheaters are upset they can’t cheat anymore and actually have to put in effort to find Pokemon? Oh the horror.

    • The only reason they were “cheating” was because the tracker wasn’t working. Had the in-game tracker been working there would have been no need for the site.

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