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Pokévision creator pens open letter criticizing Niantic’s decision to shut down trackers

by Ron Duwell | August 3, 2016August 3, 2016 9:00 am PST

The Pokémon GO community continues to reel from the closure of third party Pokémon trackers and the game’s own lack of any useful systems. Some praise the decision to close popular services like Pokévision as they see it a “cheating,” but other saw it as a necessity to fill in the gaps of what is otherwise a random, broken experience.

Pokévision creator Yang Liu is one of the latter. After his service website came to a sudden close this weekend, the fanbase ruptured with frustration, and this was no “loud minority,” either. Liu cites 50 million unique users, over half of the 80 million player audience, and 11 million daily clicks as a sign that people want some form of tracking in the game. Suggesting that 50 million people are cheaters misses the fact that there is something fundamentally wrong with the core game itself.

Liu’s long, eloquent open-letter to Niantic touches on a good many points, and it is a good read in its entirety. Here is a small piece.

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.

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. 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. Yes, Pokevision does give some advantages that may be TOO much; but is it all that bad? Pokemon has survived 20 years — even grown, I would say. And Pokemon Go made it even bigger. If the argument is that “well, if you catch a Snorlax you weren’t supposed to find, but you found it on Pokevision, it might make you play less.” If that was your argument, I’d have to disagree! I’ll still catch a damn Snorlax even if I have 20 of them. Just like how millions of us have caught probably over 100 pidgey’s or zubat’s each.

Pokemon is everlasting. The same 151 Pokemon have been around for 20 years. If 80M people downloaded and played Pokemon Go within a week (before it even released in multiple major countries) isn’t an indication that no one can be sick of Pokemon, I don’t know what is.

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.

Meanwhile, Niantic’s response to the whole fiasco has been that it is fixing the system, which it saw as “confusing.” People seem more confused now than ever, though, so I don’t see how the status quo is any better.

Medium Kotaku

Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...

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