Over the last week, Niantic — the developers of smartphone smash-hit Pokémon Go — has taken a lot of heat as it moves to shut down popular apps and services like PokeVision, which put the monsters on a map.
Niantic defended the move earlier this week by claiming that those sites, and the massive amounts of data they had to pull to work, were putting a lot of stress on the servers. That stress had been translating into making the game unreliable for players all over the globe, which is bad given that Pokémon Go just launched in Latin America.
In a blog entry on Thursday afternoon, Niantic CEO John Hanke expanded on that explanation by providing a chart that claims to show the overall strain on the Pokémon Go servers caused immediately before and after the game blocked a fresh load of cheating apps on August 3rd.
“Spatial queries per second,” here, refers to the number of times that the app talks to the server to get location information. The chart shows that those unauthorised outside cheating apps were causing a huge inflation in the number of queries per second, as they scraped out the data that showed where each Pokémon is located.
Although, as any mathematician would tell you, without a labelled Y-axis showing the quantities we’re dealing with here, it’s hard to know exactly how big an impact they had, making this chart not a great objective source of data. Regardless, it’s an interesting perspective on the effect of these apps on Pokémon Go.
Hanke acknowledges that some of the people scraping data are well-intentioned fans who just want to play more efficiently, using tools like PokeVision to guide their hunts. But he also says that’s not the whole story.
“It’s worth noting that some of the tools used to access servers to scrape data have also served as platforms for bots and cheating which negatively impact all Trainers,” Hanke writes. “There is a range of motives here from blatant commercial ventures to enthusiastic fans but the negative impact on game resources is the same.”
And while Hanke didn’t address the connection head-on, there are lots of players who were only relying on cheating sites to find Pokémon because “Nearby,” the game’s in-game system for tracking them was broken for weeks, before it was ultimately removed entirely — to the frustration of players. Hanke says Niantic is working on it.
“We have heard feedback about the Nearby feature in the game and are actively working on it,” Hanke writes.