Here’s Why Niantic Shut Down Pokemon GO Tracking Apps & Services

Uzair Ghani
Posted Aug 5, 2016
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Niantic explains why it shut down services and apps that allowed users to find Pokemon on a map. The reason is actually quite surprising.

Niantic Needed To Shed The Load From Its Servers, Therefore Shutting Down Tracking Apps Was Necessary

When Niantic pushed out a big update to Pokemon GO a little under a week back, it started to shut down services that allowed users to track Pokemon on a map. Naturally, this caused an uproar in the community since players were utilizing aforementioned services on a daily basis. And at that time we thought the reason for the shutdown was because Niantic wanted to eradicate the element of ‘cheating.’

But there’s much more to it than that.

It seems as though those third-party tracking services were adding quite a bit of load on Niantic’s servers, therefore resulting in slight delay in the rollout of game to Central and South America. So, in order to make sure the game was offering top-notch user experience for the players, Niantic made the move to shut down tracking services and apps.

Here’s what Niantic has to say about it:

Running a product like Pokémon GO at scale is challenging. Those challenges have been amplified by third parties attempting to access our servers in various ways outside of the game itself.

As some of you may have noticed we recently rolled out Pokémon GO to Latin America including Brazil. We were very excited to finally be able to take this step. We were delayed in doing that due to aggressive efforts by third parties to access our servers outside of the Pokémon GO game client and our terms of service. We blocked some more of those attempts yesterday. Since there has been some public discussion about this, we wanted to shed some more light on why we did this and why these seemingly innocuous sites and apps actually hurt our ability to deliver the game to new and existing players. The chart below shows the drop in server resources consumed when we blocked scrapers. Freeing those resources allowed us to proceed with the Latin America launch.

But wait, there’s more to it:

In addition to hampering our ability to bring Pokémon GO to new markets, dealing with this issue also has opportunity cost. Developers have to spend time controlling this problem vs. building new features. It’s worth noting that some of the tools used to access servers to scrape data have also served as platforms for bots and cheating which negatively impact all Trainers. There is a range of motives here from blatant commercial ventures to enthusiastic fans but the negative impact on game resources is the same.

Of course, there are also outright hackers out there attempting to break into systems, hijack social media accounts, and even bring down the service. Some of them have posted publicly about their attempts.

We don’t expect these attempts to stop. But we do want you to understand why we have taken the steps we have and why we will continue to take steps to maintain the stability and integrity of the game.

Wrap Up

So there you have it. Now you know why these services had to bite the dust. Basically to make sure the game runs as smoothly as possible as it rolls out to more and more regions across the globe.

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