If you have been anywhere near the Internet lately, you may have heard about the outrage surrounding Pokemon Go and its developer, Niantic. In the wake of several updates, Niantic has quickly alienated the player base.
In case you are not up to speed, the sequence of events unfolded thusly: first, Niantic sent out an update, which completely removed the “steps” for tracking Pokemon on the nearby tab. Second, the update came along with the shuttering of Pokemon trackers, such as Pokevision, that allowed users to still track down nearby Pokemon despite the 3 step glitch.
Now, the nearby tracking within the app had not been working since around the first week of release. Removing the steps just reduced confusion. However, players were more agitated with the loss of the tracking sites, thus entirely eliminating the ability to find any Pokemon other than aimlessly wandering.
Arguments exist on both sides regarding the tracking. One side would say it goes against the spirit of the game, which is to explore and uncover Pokemon locations, and ask those around for help. The other side values efficiency, and wants at least some kind of hot/cold system to be able to get nudged in the right direction.
Wherever the argument falls, the real nail in the coffin was the complete lack of communication from Niantic. Throughout the rollout and release of Pokemon Go, Niantic has not communicated to the playerbase about any of the updates, why the chose to do what they did, or what the future holds.
Personally, I had used the tracking. I would use it to check the nests in my area, and then walk around the area (normally parks). I didn’t often use it when actually walking around, but I saw many others who did. It has certainly been annoying checking for new hot spots and coming up disappointed, but I’ve gotten somewhat used to it.
My biggest complaint was the server instability that came along with the update. I was locked out of the game for a couple days, and when I finally got into the game, I couldn’t see any Pokestops, gyms, or Pokemon. While I understand the unanticipated success but a huge load on the servers, there was no messages from Niantic concerning timetable or any feedback.
The lack of any engagement was the sticking point for me. Routine problems with new game releases are to be expected, but without any updates or status from Niantic, its frustrating to keep playing.
Will Niantic fix the tracking problem? Why was it removed entirely? How did they take down the tracking sites? No one can be sure, but everyone has opinion, and those opinions are emotionally charged.
Users retaliated by giving 1 star reviews for the app on the Play Store and Apple Store. The app’s aggregate rank tanked within the day, and many more requested refunds for money spent in the game. Silence followed from Niantic. The next day, the iOS version had a new update, the details of which were uncertain (and did not include tracking). Silence from Niantic (see a pattern?).
To their credit, Niantic finally responded. For the time being, this appears to have somewhat placated a portion of the outrage, but it may only be a temporary bandage.
Pokemon Go is a fun game, and it became an overnight success. Hordes of people are outside searching for Pokemon, and doing so with friends and family. Parks around my area have even had to close due to capacity. The game has done great and innovative things.
However, it is now a game development company’s obligation to be transparent with its player base. Despite size, any game with a worldwide release with one of the most beloved IPs needs to have community engagement. Niantic dropped the ball. It’s frustrating to see, although Ingress players have griped they knew it was inevitable all along.
My hope is that they change their tune, and engage more with the community. Give forewarning of updates. Give reasoning behind the changes. List said changes so that people can anticipate how it will affect the game. All of this is relatively straight forward.
A new in-game tracker would be a great first step for those who feel the most disaffected. While there are some new ones out there, an in-game tracker could keep the thrill of the hunt, and be a gesture of receptiveness to the outrage.
All in all, all we can do now is watch. I have continued to play despite no tracker, and despite the updates. The servers have been stable over the past couple days, which has fixed my biggest gripe. I just hope the player base sticks around to see it through.
What have been your thoughts on Pokemon Go so far? What is your opinion on Niantics lack of communication? Do you use a tracker? Comment below!