Pokevision Creator Pleads With Niantic To Let It Live

When tracking service Pokevision was initially shut down last weekend, Yang Liu, the proprietor, didn't say much about what was going on. Today, he breaks his silence with a long letter that pleads Niantic to change its stance on Pokemon trackers. You can read the whole thing here, but one of the most shocking things in the post are the raw numbers. According to Liu, 50 million unique people used Pokevision at some point. The last figure I saw for Pokemon GO's total userbase was around 80 million, and even assuming it's higher now, it still means that more than half of the entire playerbase used Pokevision to hunt down specific monsters. That's how huge the service was, and why people considered its shutdown such a big deal.

When most of your players use a service, the entire idea of "cheating" becomes more complex. In this case, Liu argues, it wasn't evidence of people wanting to gain an upper hand, but rather proof that something was wrong with Pokemon GO's own mechanics. Pokevision was but a band-aid on a bigger problem, and that was a lack of tracking.

Here's Liu:

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.

You can read the rest of the letter here.

Earlier today, Niantic issued a statement on whey they shut down tracking services, claiming that they "interfer[ed] with our ability to maintain quality of service for our users and to bring Pokemon GO to users around the world".


    Well I mean it is literally the only way to track pokemon now. Otherwise it's just a random encounter and egg mining game going forward now niantic have removed all tracking.

    I enjoyed tracking pokemon within pokemon go, I enjoyed using poke vision for the same thing although it did take a little of the mystery away and make it easier. I don't enjoy leaving my phone running destroying my battery hoping I'll run into something, so I've stopped playing.

    Last edited 03/08/16 1:35 pm

    I say bin it and make people find pokemon the old fashioned way, how the developers intended :P

      The thing is, in game tracking has been disabled, making you unable to track anything you want within the map.

      There are no way to track pokemon except using things like pokevision.

      The developer's "intended" method was disabled by the developer. How do you want us to proceed? It's like asking you to drive to somewhere with all signboards removed.

      Last edited 03/08/16 1:54 pm

        Bad analogy.
        Its more like trying to find your car keys =P

          Or something like this: https://youtu.be/kI8xsi87sOQ

        What was the previous ingame tracking your referring to? if your talking about those little feet icons that really didnt work and had bugs (exploits) associated with it. im glad thats gone

          The original little feet during launch. It actually worked perfectly, until they decided to switch it off to reduce server load which caused it to show constant 3 foot print. Then now completely removed.

          The developer intended method of playing is using the map and feet and search for the pokemon you want in the map. Not what we have now. You can literally do nothing right now except hoping for random encounter or sit at some lured pokestop.

            This ^^^ those who knew how to use it were having a grand time with the tracking - it seemed to be a mystery to some so no wonder people dont understand the backlash!

            The whole point in a game like this is not just to randomly pick things up as you go along, rather, when you are in a new environment and you check your phone and see that rare pokemon you have been trying to catch is 3 footsteps away - That is motivation to go play it. To say to friends that you've just met up with "Hey I need this Porygon that's over there - Lets go find it"...

            That was the intention of how to play the game. Not just "Hey guys lets walk around and keep finding shitloads of Pidgys and Rattattas!!!"

              It still tells you what Pokemon is available nearby, just not how far away. Arguably it promotes more exploring because you dont know exactly where it is. Also, if this was any other Pokemon game, you would just have to aimlessly trudge through the grass in a circle until you randomly walked into a battle. This is just a real world equivalent of that...

              Again, whats the alternative? Maybe down the track Niantec will make enough money to buy more servers which can handle the load. I'd rather they fix the miriad of problems with the game before re-adding a feature that may have been contributing to said problems in the first place...

    This isn't giving a pass mark to the developer in any way, shape or form, but what's the alternative? The game shuts down until its more feature-complete? Do we want a laundry list of stuff that's slated to be in the game and when/how it's going to be deployed? Then there's the actual clone games to contend with.

    It seems that the main issue is that there are 50 million people using an additional service that connects directly to the games servers and god only knows how optimised that is or how much additional data that is pulling.
    So much of the problems with connecting and access to the game could be due to these 3rd party apps. It could potentially be tripling the load if poke-vision is twice as heavy as the app on the servers.
    So then you have a chicken and egg thing where staff at Niantic are spending all the time trying to keep the servers running and working on that, so they can't fix the tracking bugs or improve the feature. That drives more people to the 3rd apps which increase load, so on and so forth.
    It will be interesting to see if access to the app improves now that this has shut down.

      To be absolutely honest, Niantics could have to implement actual map position for pokemon in the app then majority of people will stop using things like pokevision.

      If you can't beat them join them.

      This ^^^ pretty sure this was a major influence on shutting down 3rd party apps/ sites, they want server stability first. The problem is that when they bothered to tell the community about it they wanted us to believe that tracking was ruining the way people play anyway so we wouldn't mind. The lack of communication really isn't helping.

      That being said I'm trying to keep in mind that it's barely been out a month.

      It would have been putting a huge strain on it. Using the app, it will load the nearby ones. On that site, I assume you can get much larger areas.

    they wont allow pokevision or add the step feature back in because in the words of Niantic it put too much strain on their servers, which in turned stopped them from releasing to other countries, which stopped them from making loads of money from in game purchases from those countries. (which is probably also the reason for the caught map feature not working).

    It would be nice if niantic hadn't blocked visitor comments on their page. I personally have refunded my in app purchases because I don't see why I should invest in a broken game. It would be nice of niantic to open there Facebook (flood gates) to actually listen to what the community wants. Just another company ruining a great ip.

    Niantic keeps on babbling about T&C, one thing most ppl have not touched on is Niantic have a competing product in the pipeline, which is Pokemon Go Plus,

    Think how many ppl would spend their $$ on it if there is a live visualisable tracker?

    Niantic is probably the only company took action on data mining, data mining in games is pretty much the norms these days with any game.

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