Tracking – The Missing Feature in Pokémon GO

Over the past month, Niantic has released a few minor updates for Pokémon GO: They created a “catch rate bonus” for certain types of Pokémon, updated the gym training features, and introduced the buddy system. While these have mostly been well received, it still feels like we are playing an unfinished game. There is one HUGE feature missing, and, for some reason, Niantic seems to be ignoring the player base’s wishes.

Players want tracking. Oh tracking, how we miss you.

When the game initially launched in early July, there actually was a rough tracking system in place. Footsteps were visible beneath wild Pokémon on your nearby list – the more footsteps, the farther away the wild Pokémon.

SOURCE: ClashOfTheNerds

Photo Credit: ClashOfTheNerds

While this system was not particularly accurate, at least we had something. Then, it just stopped working, and eventually Niantic took out the feature altogether. Some regions never even saw a working tracking system to begin with.

At this point, tracking apps became popular. If the in-game tracking system didn’t work, it was perfectly fine to go to third parties to find the wild Pokémon nearby. Unfortunately, Niantic seems to have a different opinion.

After the game’s internal tracking feature was taken out, most users turned to Pokévision, an online site that could scan for nearby Pokémon. In a swift crackdown, Niantic changed Pokémon GO’s API, totally shutting down Pokévision’s functionality. This move caused a pretty vicious internet mob to pick up their pitchforks and torches and take to Reddit. Poison spilled from keyboards, and Niantic undoubtably lost a lot of players.

Though Pokévision was shut down, other tracking apps and third party sites remained. More recently, many players were using FastPokéMap, which served the same function as Pokévision. Again, Niantic sought to shut down these tracking sites with an update. They introduced reCapatcha, a security update that essentially completely locked all third party developers out of the game.

Said the creator of FastPokéMap on Twitter:

They have been hard at work trying to get FastPokéMap back up, and it’s actually functioning now. Sort of.

SOURCE: FastPokeMap

SOURCE: FastPokeMap

The question remains: why does Niantic use its resources trying to stop third party trackers, instead of just fixing the in-game tracking?

If they put in a little effort, maybe they could create a new, better type of tracking within the game. Or maybe they could get together with the creators of these third party sites and come up with a way to add an extant tracking system into the game. But, ludicrously, rather than fixing things, Niantic goes out of its way to kill third party tracking sites.

Niantic did begin testing a new tracking feature in August, but it was only ever avaiblable in San Francisco. The system essentially allowed you to track Pokémon that were attached to PokéStops. In fact, it’s still going, but it’s geo-locked to San Fran. And when asked if it will roll out wider, Niantic had this to say…

At this moment, there is no estimated timeline to potentially rolling it out wider.”

Now, with no Pokémon spawning above 25MPH and no tracking features, many players are growing tired of the game. To retain players, Niantic must make it a priority to introduce some sort of in-game tracking system before any other updates.

Are you frustrated with the shutdown of third party tracking apps? Did you count on them to find Pokémon in the wild? How do you feel about the game in its current state? Let me know in the comments below.

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