Whether it’s the servers crashing, Poké Balls freezing, or something else, there’s no denying that Pokémon GO has been plagued with technical issues since release. Despite all its flaws, Pokémon GO still managed to soar to the top of the App Store on iOS and Google Play on Android. However, the emergence of a recent glitch and Niantic Lab’s solution for said glitch has dramatically reduced players’ confidence in the developers.
Within the game is a list of Pokémon near the player’s current location. Originally, the list provided players with an idea of how close/far a Pokémon was from them in the form of “footsteps”. Zero footsteps meant the Pokémon was close enough to encounter, while three footsteps signified the Pokémon was a couple of meters away. The function was buggy like the rest of the game, but recently it became obsolete. Each and every Pokémon on the list was labeled with three footsteps, regardless of their distance to the player.
For a game focused on seeking out and capturing Pokémon, the “three step glitch” became a significant issue. Niantic failed to communicate with the community, leaving their customers in the dark. Without a way to track Pokémon in-game, many third party software developers took the opportunity to create their own tracking programs. Niantic voiced their opposition to such programs because, as Niantic CEO John Hanke stated, tracking software “takes some fun out of the game”.
Rather than fixing the glitch, Niantic made a drastic change by removing the footsteps indicator completely. That update enraged the Pokémon GO community, and reasonably so. Here Niantic was speaking out against tracking applications, but instead of fixing their own system for tracking Pokémon, they removed it from the game. The complete removal of the footsteps system only encourages players to rely further on third-party software.
Pokémon GO has subsequently decreased to one and a half stars out of five on the Apple App Store. Not only is Niantic’s terrible decision to remove the footsteps indicator to blame, but also their lack of communication. If more major issues continue to arise and Niantic fails to update their player base on the situation, then Pokémon GO can quickly turn into a disaster. Hopefully Niantic learns from this experience because millions of people would be distraught if Pokémon GO died.