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Pokémon Go’s latest updates bring balance — and outrage

This weekend saw big improvements and bigger controversies

The Pokémon Go community has been up in arms since the release of the game’s 1.1.0 (on iOS, or 0.31.0 on Android) update on July 30-31. Although with it came several welcome additions — customizations and battle buffs chief among them — the removal of certain features in lieu of actual bug fixes have some fans railing against Niantic, the free-to-play hit’s developer.

The biggest updates are as follows:

  • Players can now change the look of their trainers from the profile screen. Selecting the three-line icon in the lower right-hand corner brings up the customization menu. Previously, once a trainer’s look was set, that was it.
  • Many achievement medals have new looks, like a Pokédex for the Kanto achievement and a running shoe for the Jogger milestone.
  • In order to transfer a Pokémon, players have to access a separate menu from the details screen. Players also can no longer send their specially marked "favorite" Pokémon back to Professor Willow. This will prevent accidental transfers of beloved Pokémon — as well as ensure you won’t get rid of Pokémon you meant to evolve.
  • Players have been keeping track of various Pokémon nests, specific locations where Pokémon are known to spawn. These have been changed up, according to fans, so expect to find new types of species around town. Other, rare finds have become harder to track down, however.
  • Several moves have been powered up, while others have been weakened. The Silph Road, a major Pokémon Go fansite, has a full list of attacks and their powers, but a chart shared to its subreddit details the changes. Some Pokémon are seriously affected by these changes, like Vaporeon, whose powerful Water Gun and Aqua Tail attacks received serious nerfs. Expect to see fewer of these and other powerful Pokémon around — as they’re no longer at the tippy-top of the tier list.
  • The nearby tracking system, which has long suffered from a glitch that showed every Pokémon as three steps away, has been altered. Now, Pokémon trainers are completely on their own when it comes to finding Pokémon; there are no footprints whatsoever.

Although many of these changes have been praised, that last change has drawn complaints from various players who relied on the footprint system for their Pokémon hunting. Although its function was rendered useless shortly after launch, some fans have called out Niantic for choosing to dismantle the system in lieu of issuing a fix.

Niantic has also received criticism as third-party mapping services shut down following the update. Over the weekend, sites and apps like the popular Pokévision shut down "indefinitely," citing orders from Niantic and others who have taken issue with the use of the Pokémon trademark or Niantic API.

"We appreciate all of your concerns," says Niantic

Fans have become so incensed by this and other changes — some have called out catching Pokémon as more difficult since the update as well — that Pokémon Go now has a 1.5 star rating on the iOS App Store. A follow-up patch issued today, version 1.1.1, has been accused by some angry players as Niantic’s attempt at covering up the bad reviews caused by the previous update. This patch offers "performance improvement" and little else.

There are players calling for mass refunds in protest and posting long comment threads on Pokémon Go’s various Reddit communities, bristling at the changes and calling for new ones. Criticisms continue to include the lack of communication between the developer and the player base. (Niantic is currently hiring a global community manager for the game.)

Although Pokémon Go has, in many ways, become a better, more stable game since its early July launch, the recent developments — all because of this weekend's update and subsequent events — have turned some people off completely.

"The saddest thing is," wrote player HappyHoodwink on Reddit, "many players are already dropping off and those of us who are willing to stick around are probably going to eventually have this potentially amazing experience ruined bit by bit until we just despise the game."

We’ve reached out to both The Pokémon Company and Niantic about the possible reinstatement of key features like the nearby tracking system. We'll update when we receive more.

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