Niantic Explains Pokemon GO Changes

With players turning on Pokemon GO, Niantic has put out a statement explaining why certain changes were made. As Kotaku reported yesterday, much of the controversy has been over the three-step "Nearby" feature. Niantic addresses that in a statement, which can be read in full below:

As many of you know, we recently made some changes to Pokémon 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 Pokémon GO to users around the world. The large number of users has made the roll-out of Pokémon 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 Pokémon GO team

The next update should be improvements to Niantic's communication feature.


    was also confusing and did not meet our underlying product goals.

    What are they smoking? They had 7 year olds embrace the concept faster than a lot of 20+ year olds. 3 Steps means far but close, 2 is getting closer and 1 means get excited. Pretty straight forward concept to be honest, I don't see how you could get confused by that at all.

    And how does that then meet up with the underlying product goals?

    The next update should be improvements to Niantic’s communication feature.
    Completely agreed there. Their stance on third party locators is pretty piss poor to be honest, are they going to attempt to ban word of mouth next?

    Last edited 03/08/16 7:03 am

      It was somewhat confusing to a lot of people. I don't know how many people I have heard or read say that the 'pulse' means you are either facing or walking in the right direction.

        The confusing part was the broken part otherwise it was an easy feature to understand.

          Maybe for you. Seems most people were confused about the pulsing too. Or maybe not confused as they thought they knew what it was doing. But incorrect anyway.

            You're right, that's what I'm saying. The steps, pulsing, & other crap were broken so it was all just rumours or anecdotal for what worked for some and not for others. That's why the Pokemon index site was so good for people.

      It was confusing in terms of giving a decent estimate for how far 1, 2 and 3 steps were and also how to use that information to track them down. Bundle that in with 3 step pokemon being glitched from the start and it created confusion. Most people seem to have forgotten but the tracker never worked to begin with, most of the 3 step pokemon shown had already despawned.

      In the beta it gave players a distance in metres to the pokemon. By walking around and seeing the distance go up or down it was much easier to determine where the spawns were both in terms of distance and direction.

      I understand why they went to a more vague "step" system but it also needs to be tied in with a direction. Knowing that pokemon despawn after 15 minutes trying to figure out where they are and then get there in time is pretty hard.

        Most people seem to have forgotten but the tracker never worked to begin with, most of the 3 step pokemon shown had already despawned.

        Never knew/encountered that. I was aware of the meters though which is pretty neat - although I presume this might have added more stress to the servers, hence why the changed it for the Step system? Who knows.

        Makes more sense now though with it being confusing. Thanks for the reply!

          Yeah, there was a lot of confusion on reddit about just how far out the 3 steps were....testing confirmed it at 90-100m but you could walk that far in every direction and still never find some 3 step pokemon. Plus they'd be on your list for well over 15 minutes.

          I don't get why it should have added stress to the servers unless they were calculating distances on there. Which would be retarded. The information of nearby pokemon would get delivered to the client, including their location coordinates, and the client should be able to calculate their distance away on its own using its coordinates. The server shouldn't have anything to do with it.

        Knowing that pokemon despawn after 15 minutes trying to figure out where they are and then get there in time is pretty hard.

        These are the skills you need to master if you are to be a Great Pokemon Trainer.

      "Their stance on third party locators is pretty piss poor to be honest, are they going to attempt to ban word of mouth next?"

      This is so weak. Ofcourse the third party locators should be banned and banned for a number of reasons.

      One of the main reasons was that it was putting a heap of stress on the servers. Maybe you should read up how the likes of pokevision actually worked and then you could understand.

      Secondly it destroyed the whole concept of the game. Yes it is great to use while the tracker was down, but in the end it was always going to be removed.

        Rubbish it is weak. Absolute rubbish. They (Niantic) have done the same kind of tracking with Ingress - how is that any different? It must still query the servers to get their portal locations and status, correct? I am aware of how PokeVision, PokeRadar and SliphMap works (thanks GitHub). The only substance that you have here is that Niantic have it all consolidated to their 1 site. So all of the pings will be coming from one place, as opposed to the current multitudes of sites pinging all over the world from numerous users.

        LOL How does it destroy the concept of the game when I still have to *get off my ass* and make my way to that location? A Pokemon can stay spawned anywhere from between 5-15 minutes. That's enough time for me to get out of my house if it's nearby, or jump on my motorbike/car if it is relatively close.

        If I'm not in a town I go to regularly, then I want to see if there are any decent locations around with a Pokemon that I am missing due to nests and other such not being common in my current town.

        EG: Hamilton, NZ. Prior to the update we had a grand total of 1 Charmander spawn. 1. Bulbasaur were uncommon, Squirtle were rare. And not only that, they only spawned maybe once every 4 hours. Head over to Tauranga, NZ. You could find 4-8 Voltorbs consistently in Welcome Bay.

        You're also aware that the steps was 'putting heaps of stress' on the servers, right?

        Last edited 03/08/16 11:08 am

    It was confusing at first, I had no idea they were feet icons when I first picked it up. After realising, it made sense - but perhaps a general direction should be given as well.

    I note that (one of) the Pokemon Go stories that went up yesterday actually rose to the surface on Fairfax's Age and SMH websites. It was deemed as 'COMMENT" which I know is just the way the website handles partner content like that but it's sort of a misnomer. Yes the article/blog format contained a slight editorialising, but it was full of stuff that really actually happened too.

    Publishing official media releases with pithy 'my two cents' rubbish seems really petty though.

    You know what is more confusing than the original near by feature? The current near by feature.
    Pokemon move from the 3rd line to the 2nd to the 1st then disappear. Is it now time based? Or just completely broken?

      From what I understand, Pokemon hang around for a certain time then despawn. Remember stories about the pokevision service that would tell you how long they were hanging around for?

      What are you talking about with original vs current? The current feature is just a list with no indication of distance. The original had the 1, 2 or 3 steps...or if you want to go into the beta "original" it showed a distance in metres.

        Yes but on the current version the order of the pokemon change. What does the order mean and why does it change?

          No-one really seems to know or care about the order anymore. It's confirmed as not indicating which one is closest so it could be based on time until they despawn or just the order that your phone retrieved them from the server.

          You can be standing on top of a pokemon and still have it not appear on your nearby list so it's pretty useless currently. Might as well just remove it entirely but the reddit explosion wouldn't be worth it.

        That's exactly what I meant by the current being more confusing than the original.
        Once you knew how the original worked it was easy to use. The current feature is a broken mess. Yet here's Niantic saying they removed the original because it was "too confusing", as if the current is somehow an improvement.

    did not meet our underlying product goals

    e.g: People weren't buying enough of our shit from the store.

    That was a terrible response they put out. More of a "You don't seem to understand what we did so let us say it slower and longer and then you'll get it dummies., these are better features". People are still going to mass downvote and rate their app because they haven't actually made movement to respond to the specific complaints. Feels like a React/TmarTn response.

    The three step system stopped working for me weeks ago. All Pokemon were 3 steps even when they appeared on top of me.

      Yeah, that was when they first disabled it. The same thing they did back then is still in effect, they just removed the 3 step image.

    I can see what will happen now. They'll re-introduce the tracking/steps feature when they can get it working better and be less confusing. But it will be something you have to activate manually through a "Poke-radar" and you only have a set number of activations for limited time periods. You can then "recharge" your Poke-radar by walking a set distance or buying batteries or similar from the store.

      I'd actually be OK with that. Batteries could also be rewards for leveling up.

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