Pokemon GO players around the world have been using Pokevision – a tracking service that has been helping trainers find elusive ‘mon – compensating for an in-game issue that developer Niantic has yet to fix.
Unfortunately the service was recently shut down, prompting creator Yang Liu to write an open letter to Niantic, begging the company to change its hardcore stance on Pokemon GO trackers.
For anyone who isn’t entirely sure what Pokevision is (or was) allow me to briefly explain: You might remember that Pokemon GO had a step system that allowed you to track nearby monsters.
This worked for about a week, before it broke and every Pokemon appeared 3 steps away. As such, it became impossible to actually hunt Pokemon in a game about hunting Pokemon.
Pokevision (and other services like it) were created to remedy this issue. By going on your browser, you could see nearby ‘mon, and catching ’em all became less of a dull game of chance and actually became fun again.
Liu’s basic argument boils down to the fact that more than half of Pokemon GO’s 80 million player base used this service at some point, and that Pokevision was not created to cheat – simply to help people play a game that is – at times – near unplayable.
You can find Liu’s full letter here, but read below for an extract:
Pokevision, at this time has grown to almost 50M unique users, and 11 million daily.
Let that sink in for a second.
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.
After disabling the in-game tracker and Pokevision, the ratings on iOs and Android Google Play store went from 4.0 stars to 1.0–1.5. I am only one person, I admit that my sole opinion is not important, but what about the countless players begging for the game to be restored to its former state? I may be biased in saying that Pokevision being down had an impact on the amount of negative ratings, refund requests and outcry on social media — but could it be true? Nothing has changed between the time the in-game tracker broke and Pokevision went down. Could it just be possible that the tracker — no matter if Pokevision made it, or Niantic made it, is something that players desperately NEED — not want, but NEED — in order to play the game? Could it be possible that this is the very core fundamental feature that drives most players? I understand that there are some that want to walk around and stumble on a random Pokemon — to each their own. But, 50M unique users and 11M daily and the ratings on your App (with no significant change in itself) are big indicators of this desire. Are customers always right? Especially if over half of them are looking for an outside fix just so they can enjoy something they love? People are naturally inquisitive, and in this case, they just want to play more and more, so they sought out something that helps them do so.
As you can see, Liu makes some fair and well reasoned points – his full letter is brilliantly written and considers both sides, and I recommend giving it a read if you get a chance.
For Niantic’s part, the company vaguely claimed that tracking systems such as Pokevision interfere with ‘our ability to maintain quality of service for our users and to bring Pokemon GO to users around the world.’
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.