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Pokémon Go developer promises nearby tracking improvements amidst uproar

The third-party map site shutdown is also explained away

A photo of a phone displaying the Niantic logo

After a weekend of criticism for making major changes to Pokémon Go, Niantic responded to the game’s community in a Facebook post that promised forthcoming improvements to popular features and continued work on its global launch — while admitting that it has "limited" popular, now-defunct third-party services.

"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" like the "three-step" nearby Pokémon tracking system, Niantic said.

A recent update to the iOS and Android game dismantled the display, which had assigned a Pokémon’s distance in one-to-three footprints to help players hunt for monsters. Now, it shows a Pokémon’s icon or silhouette without offering players an indication of how close or far the character may be, frustrating many players.

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Man holding phone playing Pokémon Go Photo: Niantic/The Pokémon Company
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Since shortly after the game launched, however, the system hadn’t been working as it was meant to thanks to a glitch that showed all Pokémon as three footprints away. Niantic acknolwedged both fans’ concerns and the system’s dysfunction in its post.

"We have removed the ‘3-step’ display in order to improve upon the underlying design," the company wrote. "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."

As for popular, fan-made Pokémon locators like Pokévision, which closed down Sunday after Niantic CEO John Hanke voiced his disapproval of third-party Pokémon mapping sites, it doesn’t sound like the company plans to allow them to return.

"We have limited access by third-party services which were interfering with our ability to maintain quality of service to our users and to bring Pokémon Go to users around the world," the developer confirmed.

Instead, Niantic is turning its attention to the game’s global rollout as countries like Brazil continue to beg for the game. Over the weekend, Hanke even found his social media accounts in the hands of hackers, who cited the lack of a Brazilian release as a reason for the attack.

Niantic promises to keep listening — and talking back

"The large number of users has made the rollout of Pokémon Go around the world an ... interesting ... challenge," the development team wrote. "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)."

There remains no timetable for Pokémon Go’s South American launch. Still, the post represents a rare occurrence of Niantic communicating with players directly. The developer has been routinely criticized for its lack of response to community complaints, especially after a three-day period that saw an end to some of the game’s beloved, even integral features.

"If you haven’t heard us Tweeting much it’s because we’ve been heads down working on the game," Niantic explained. "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."

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