Pokemon Go updates cause frustration among users

Brandon Bounds

After being released in July, Pokemon Go became the fastest mobile game to ever reach No. 1 in revenue on iOS and Android operating systems, according to App Annie. The game topped the charts in less than 24 hours on iOS operating systems, and in four days on the Android charts.

The “Augmented Reality” app underwent its first major update in late July and players were not happy with the results.

According to the Pokemon Go website, Niantic, Inc. partly owned by Nintendo, the update removed the three-step tracking system within the game “to improve on the underlying design.”

The mobile app allowed players to track and catch Pokemon in real life.

To help find Pokemon, the app included a tracking feature to show how close the fictional creatures were. The distance is represented as a total of three footsteps. If the radar showed three steps, the Pokemon is far away. As the number of footsteps decreased, the closer the Pokemon was for the player to catch it.

Sam Benya, a recent graduate from Kent State’s School of Digital Sciences, expressed his view on the recent change.

“The tracking was a major feature of the game that facilitated catching Pokemon,” Benya said. “Removing this feature was like taking out 30 percent of the game. But what really gets me is how they went about doing it. They just kept everyone in the dark when it was broken and (then) when they removed it.”

Rumors surfaced on the internet, explaining the reason for the removal of the tracking feature was to prevent the servers from crashing and to allow the game to run more efficiently.

“They just assumed people would go with it because it’s Pokemon and it’s popular,” Benya said. “That’s almost insulting to the players. If any other non-Pokemon game did that, they’d be out of business.”

However, a member of the Kent State Pokemon League tried to remain optimistic about the update.

“The disappointment of the no footprints was there, yes,” said senior fine arts major Harrisen Carney. “However, having people try to get the full experience of looking for Pokemon gives me hope to make the app more (efficient).”

Despite the negative feedback, Niantic has also made additional improvements to the mobile app.

The “Pokemon Go” team randomly selected a subset of players to test a new tracking system. The system is said to include the image of tall grass when detecting nearby Pokemon. Whether or not the feature will be offered to all users is currently unknown.

Other updates include the improvement of a thrown curveball’s accuracy, the ability for a player to change their nickname once and added dialogue to confirm players are not driving while on the app.

Niantic said it is currently working on ways to improve the game for better playing experience in the future.

According to data aggregated by Bloomberg, as of August 2016, the app has seen a decrease in user engagement. This includes decreases in active users, downloads, engagement and time spent on the application. There has been no proven correlation between the application updates and decrease in engagement.

Brandon Bounds is a general assignment reporter for The Kent Stater, contact him at [email protected].