Pokémon GO has been swept up in controversy this week, after Niantic released a software update that not only removed the three-step display but limited access to third-party tracking services that were interfering with the augmented reality app’s performance.
One such service was the popular PokéVision, which had closed down last week in response to “respecting Niantic and Nintendo’s wishes.” Now, co-creator Yang Liu has penned an open letter to Niantic CEO John Hanke, pleading that they listen to the negative reaction and reconsider their stance.
Liu asserts that PokéVision was never meant to be “a permanent, end-all solution,” but was instead conceived as a way to encourage players to continue with Pokémon GO after the in-game tracking buckled. He defends that the main attraction wasn’t to leverage an in-game advantage, but that it encouraged everyone to play Pokémon GO more.
Now faced with plummeting App Store and Google Play ratings, Liu pleads that Niantic address player concern more transparently and re-enable the in-game tracker – seeing as it is an aspect that underpins the experience for those that have explored their surroundings over the past month.
Part of Liu’s open letter reads:
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.