Pokemon GO: Why the Niantic vs. third-party apps war will affect your game


Pokemon GO was literally the most unexpected success story of 2016. It came seemingly out of nowhere and is now suddenly everywhere. Quite remarkable when you consider the fact that it’s only been around for a month.

The app now has more daily users than Twitter and Facebook, has managed to surpass Snapchat, has opened up a whole new service industry online and has even got some people arrested.

Which is why it comes as a surprise that the creators of the game – Niantic Labs – would change one of the most fun features of the game so early.

In a recent statement, the company reported it was cracking down on third-party apps that let people track down Pokemon in their locality.

Apps like Find Em All and PokeVision used the data offered up by Niantic and Nintendo to find Pokemon around people, based on their GPS location.

Now, the company has blocked these apps from gaining access to the data and that means the way you play your favorite game has changed.


Niantic Vs. Third Parties

When Niantic decided to send out cease and desist letters to third party apps, they shut them down instantly and were heavily criticized for the decision. Millions of players claimed the company was sabotaging the most enjoyable part of the experience.

But the company responded by explaining that these apps were making the servers unreliable. It turns out the company doesn’t have a API for third-party developers. So, developers had to hack the system.

They ran Android emulators to explore the map, find Pokemon and reverse engineer the process, to send information out to users. Think of it as a lightweight, self-made API.

It’s clever, but it does have consequences for real players on the app. The third-parties were using a lot more server power than regular players, which affected the overall experience.

Some players, however, disagree with this. Someone at TechCrunch commented that the game is fundamentally broken now that these tracking services are gone.

These third party apps were keeping the game playable and adding to the experience. Some Redditors also pitched in and said the creators could have gone after bots and spoofers instead of harming the third-party apps.

In the end, Niantic has the final say over the game’s features and it seems we all have to live with Pokemon GO where the Pokemon are harder to find. At least for now.