Fun & Frustration: Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go

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.

Pokemon Go Grid Tracking

The olden days

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.

Pokemon Go Park

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.

Pokemon Go Interview Meme

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.

Porygon

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.

Pokemon Go Shop Coins

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!

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17 thoughts on “Fun & Frustration: Pokemon Go

  1. Pingback: Pokemon GO: Too little, too late? | Particlebit

  2. Pingback: Pokemon Go: Complete | Particlebit

  3. The game has never worked right for me from day 1. I have the dreaded GPS bug or whatever and none of the tips and tricks has fixed it for me. basically if I log in the game works fine for the first minute or 2 and I see the Pokémon in my immediate area. after that nothing. I have to close the game and log back in to have any Pokémon appear. the funny thing is Poke spots seems to work fine and the GPS follows where I travel but the Pokémon just won’t appear anymore after the first minute or two of logging in.It also doesn’t seem to log distance traveled as I can travel one side of the city to the next and any eggs in the incubator will only detect a fraction of the distance traveled. I think it may be updating but its every 8 or 10 minutes as opposed to continuous. its all very confusing. I once sat at a lure spot with incense and a friend was there as well. in 10 minutes she had over 10 Pokémon appear, I had 1.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That would annoy me to no end. I’ve had GPS problems, and incubator sensor issues, but not to the level you describe. This seems like something they should work to fix quickly, as I’m sure you aren’t the only one and it completely destroys the ability to enjoy it

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  4. I discovered the tracking sites on Saturday or Sunday, and my phone updated the app on Monday…

    I was interested for the first few weeks, but I am bored of it now. It needs to be adding features at this stage, not removing them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I never really used the tracking system because it often didn’t work. A lot of times I would get three footprints anytime, even when I was near one. I hope the implement a better system to help players.

    Communication wise is frustrating. Niantic needs to get work on theor communication department to not lose plays.

    My bigger concern is new catch-system that’s made it more difficult and less fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’ve noticed now in the mid 20s that common Pokemon are way more difficult to catch. It started when I got to 20, but after the update, they flee way more often. Ninatic has said its a bug, so hopefully they’ll fix it soon.

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  6. It’s definitely a shame that Niantic is not properly communicating with their fans, and I know they are still looking for a community manager. Regardless, I am still enjoying it. I never used an outside tracking site and have mostly been using just the nearby tracker. Granted, the tracker has now removed the footprints, which is a bummer. It doesn’t ruin the game for me, but I can understand why many would be upset, since the game’s about finding the little critters. I do find it appalling for people to give the app 1 star reviews and demand refunds for this. Yes, it’s uncool, but I find this kind of behavior immature. Niantic needs to speak up more, but fans also need to calm down.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yea, the one star ratings were a bit extreme (and some even went as far as to rate Ingress down as well, their other game). I’ve been learning to live without the tracker, but having no sense of tracking has been quite frustrating, particularly when a recent snorlax was on the list but couldn’t find him

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I actually never updated my app, so the footprint indicator still shows up, but the game freezes all the time. I’ll give them a pass for their initial non-response on the changes, given they are a small company that got overwhelmed, and had to deal with the aftermath.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yea, and they’ve attempted to at least give a couple minor updates. If they can get a working tracker soon, and then get gen 2 in the game, I’ll be outside for long stretches…

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  8. The complete lack of communication was a huge problem. People didn’t know if they were being heard, which is all a game community really wants. Since I can’t track down any cool Pokemon in the area, Pokemon Go has changed from a game I went out to play to a game I play if I’m already out. I think the re-introduction of a new/improved tracking system and trading (which is supposedly in the works) will help right the ship.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve appreciated the minor outreach they’ve done since my post published, but I am skeptical about how quick they will get something out. They’ve rolled out South America now, so that should shift priority to a working tracker. Had snorlax on the nearby list and couldn’t find him – so frustrating

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve downloaded the game and caught a few Pokemon. I’m not really into it I guess, but I’m happy to see this game bringing families and friends together for some fun outside time 🙂

    I hope Nintanic learns from this. Angered player bases can bring any game down, no matter how popular it is.

    Liked by 1 person

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