Pokemon GO has been out a few weeks now, and as with any wildly popular digital app there has been its fair share of knock offs popping up as well as tools designed around the augmented reality app intended to help players. One of the more popular types are Pokemon tracking apps, which alert players when certain rare Pokemon pop up near them or display maps where harder to find ones have been spotted. One of the more popular ones, PokeVision, will tell player the exact area where the Pokemon pop up, as well as a timer for when they will disappear. Many avid players are using the app now to help them finish their PokeDex, but Niantic CEO John Hanke says he isn't a fan of the new tools in an interview with Forbes.
Hanke talked a bit about the variety of ways people have found to cheat the system, from more inventive ways to hatch eggs that don't require walking to actually using actual cheats. The CEO says that apps like PokeRadar or PokeVision "take the fun out of the game" and that in creating those apps people are trying to take data from the game itself, which violates the Pokemon GO Terms of Service. He also hinted that in the future, apps like that may no longer be allowed, telling Forbes "We have priorities right now but they might find in the future that those things may not work".
For some players currently, the apps help supplement the "Nearby Tracking" feature in Pokemon GO, which supposedly tells players which Pokemon are close and how far they are. However, the in-game tracking system has been broken for a while now, making every Pokemon display three steps and show up in seemingly random order, rather than based on which is actually closest. At Comic-Con Niantic said they were away of the issue, but are trying to focus their priorities on stabilizing the servers as the game is released in more countries. While the in-game feature is not as precise as the apps, it at least offered players a more direct aim rather than simply wandering around and hoping for the best. Without it, players turned to the third party apps.
Hanke implies that Niantic plan to crack down on cheating, especially as new features are released that increase competitive play like one-on-one battles. For now enjoy those apps while you can.
The Niantic CEO talked about other aspects of the game in the Forbes interview, such as the frantic need to upgrade and fix server issues and the barrage of requests from business owners to get PokeStops put in near them to draw business. With over 9.5 million users in the United States alone logging in daily, Niantic has a lot more to work out before they start integrating new features or actively preventing cheating and third parties.