The past few days have seen Pokmon Go’s popularity plunge among hardcore fans.
An unannounced app update over the weekend removed the game’s malfunctioning tracking feature and simultaneously blocked third-party tools that helped players hunt down Pokmon and calculate their potential strengths.
The changes were not welcomed by the community. Fans had created the third-party tools such as Pokvision in lieu of the app’s own limited range of features. Thousands used them – they were a huge help to people in rural areas where Pokmon were scarce, or people with full-time jobs whose time was scarce, or who simply wanted to replicate what Pokmon Go should be doing already.
In response to the changes – and to the lack of communication from developer Niantic – players requested refunds for their in-app purchases and flooded the app with negative reviews.
Niantic’s blocking of tools such as Pokvision had angered fans, but the lack of warning, or explanation, or any communication of any kind made things a whole lot worse.
One of the top-voted posts on the Pokmon Go subreddit is this cartoon:
The former community manager for Niantic got involved:
— Pokémon GO News (@PokemonGoNews) August 1, 2016
And the community manager for Niantic’s other game, Ingress, revealed the studio, bafflingly, still did not have a Pokmon Go-focused community position.
— Andrew Krug (@KrugDrew) August 1, 2016
Now, finally, Niantic is ready to talk.
Trainers, we want to explain some of the changes related to the recent update. Click here: https://t.co/Rrg4SHligA
— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) August 2, 2016
Here’s Niantic’s statement addressing the recent patch in full:
- Trainers, as many of you know, we recently made some changes to Pokmon GO.
- We have removed the ‘3-step’ display in order to improve upon the underlying design. The original feature, although enjoyed by many, was also confusing and did not meet our underlying product goals. We will keep you posted as we strive to improve this feature.
- We have limited access by third-party services which were interfering with our ability to maintain quality of service for our users and to bring Pokmon GO to users around the world. The large number of users has made the roll-out of Pokmon GO around the world an… interesting… challenge. And we aren’t done yet! Yes, Brazil, we want to bring the game to you (and many other countries where it is not yet available).
- 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. If you haven’t heard us Tweeting much it’s because we’ve been heads down working on the game. But we’ll do our best going forward to keep you posted on what’s going on.
- Be safe, be nice to your fellow trainers, and keep on exploring.
- The Pokmon GO team
Some fans have reacted positively, praising Niantic for finally breaking its silence.
But others have argued the statement does not address where Pokvision and others will be back in the future, or changes to the app which have seemingly made catching Pokmon more difficult.
It’s a small first step for Niantic, then, but there’s a long road ahead – and like all mobile apps, interest in Pokmon Go will only last for so long.