Pokemon Go has had a tumultuous few days recently as the tone of discussion around it has changed from beloved but exasperating sensation to screams of anger in the wake of several actions by Niantic. While they released a statement on the issue to the public to explain why they had removed the three-step feature and shut down sites like PokeVision, it hasn’t done too much to quell the community anger.
The shutdown of his service and the community backlash has led PokeVision creator Yang Liu to write an impassioned open letter to Niantic, and their CEO John Hanke. He opens up with explaining his history with Pokemon and how he began playing when he was 8-years-old and got Pokemon Yellow on the Gameboy. He discusses a bit how it was something big for him when he was young, although he had moved away from it as he aged, as many have done.
Pokemon Go for him, recaptured that classic feeling as it did for many others. How his parents, who hadn’t cared what Pikachu was nearly 20 years ago, were asking what the other Pokemon were. He discussed how it made the world a better place in ways because of how it brought people together, and how the game captured the heart of the world.
Then comes the painful part, as he recounts the issues as the game began to break. The fact that people were patient through all the early server issues and waited for the fix. He explains there that he made PokeVision not to “cheat” as Hanke has said PokeVision is, but as a temporary solution until the in-game tracker was fixed after several weeks of it being down. After creating it, he released it to help keep interest in the game among his friends, with the idea of closing it as soon as the in-game tracker was fixed. He explained it wasn’t made to spite anyone, just something to let people play while waiting for the in-game tracker was broken and keep discovering new Pokemon stories.
He cites that PokeVision had, at this point, had grown to almost 50m unique users and 11 million daily users. That is essentially half the playerbase of Pokemon Go having gone there with many of them staying around so that they could play Pokemon Go more. He explains they closed it at the wishes of Niantic, which included at least one letter from John Hanke himself, trusting that Niantic would be fixing the issues with the game.
Given that was followed by the removal of the in-game tracking feature without any replacement, that hasn’t happened yet. This leads Yang to explain that many users seem to view trackers as something needed for the game as shown by the userbase PokeVision had and the rating change Pokemon Go underwent on the app stores. Previously Pokemon Go was rated 4.0,but after removing the in-game tracker and Pokevision, it dropped to 1.0-1.5 on both iOS and Android.
He closes with a plea that Niantic consider the feedback of millions of players who are expressing their thoughts, and to think about the impact that Pokemon Go has had on the world. In fact, here are his final few paragraphs that wrap it up quite well:
Lastly, if money is an issue for you, Niantic, I must ask — why? You’ve captivated the world and introduced Pokemon to people that would have never touched it had it not been for Pokemon Go. To me, that’s priceless.
You won’t be remembered for the profits you made, you’ll be remembered for the world you changed through Pokemon and all of the lives you made better. Just look at all the stories — there’s plenty. So when millions of players are expressing their feedback to changes, is it not worth it to listen to what they have to say?
In its first few weeks, Pokemon Go has already enhanced millions of lives in unimaginable ways. It has so much potential to continue changing the world. Wouldn’t you, Niantic, want to see just how much good you can do with Pokemon Go — is that not more valuable than anything else? I sure think so.
What do you think of Yang’s open letter? Do you think Niantic should let PokeVision reopen until their in-game tracker is fixed? What do you think is the solution? Share your thoughts in the comments below!