“Pokémon GO” recently received a big update, and players are not happy.
Along with the removal of the long-broken “Nearby” menu that was supposed to show players how far they were from specific Pokémon, Niantic Labs — the creators of “Pokémon GO” — sent a number of cease and desist letters to third-party sites like PokeVision that helped alleviate this problem.
Essentially, these sites intercepted the game’s data to display exactly where Pokémon were located on a map, creating a more detailed version of what the “Nearby” menu was supposed to do from the get-go.
So, did Niantic do the right thing by shutting down sites like PokéVision? According to Yang Liu, the creator of PokéVision, the answer is “probably not.” In fact, Liu says by shutting down PokéVision, Niantic is ignoring the needs of its players.
Liu wrote an open letter to Niantic on Medium, some of which we’ve excerpted below (emphasis ours):
“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, [50 million] unique users and [11 million] 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.”
John Hanke, the CEO of Niantic, has expressed his disdain for these third-party sites, saying that it “takes some fun” out of the game. But Liu thinks Hanke is missing the point.
“We made Pokevision not to ‘cheat,'” writes Liu. “We made it so that we can have a temporary relief to the in-game tracker that we were told was broken.”
Later, he continues, “Half of the player base of [‘Pokémon 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 [‘Pokémon GO’] more. This is what everyone wants — to play [‘Pokémon GO’] more.”
In a statement released on Niantic’s Facebook page regarding changes to much-needed features, it said, “We have read your posts and emails and we hear the frustration from folks in places where we haven’t launched yet, and from those of you who miss these features. We want you to know that we have been working crazy hours to keep the game running as we continue to launch globally.”
No specific time period was given as to when players can expect the “Nearby” menu to be fixed, but in terms of whether sites like PokéVision will come back, players are probably out of luck. Liu’s entire letter is worth a read, but it’s clear that he feels burned by the way Niantic has treated him and the “Pokémon GO” community at large.
“When we closed Pokevision out of respect for your wishes, and at your requests — one of which came directly from you, John — we trusted you guys fully in allowing the community to grow,” he writes. “I literally cannot express this more — we just want to play the game. We can handle the bugs every now and then, but please at least tell us you guys care.”
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