Here’s why Niantic squashed PokéVision and what’s next for tracking in Pokémon Go


Pokémon Go has no doubt been a massive success that’s being played by millions of people worldwide, even if one feature of the game has caused players quite a bit of grief. Because while catching Pokémon in the real world in this augmented reality game is mostly a lot of fun, hunting down those Pokémon has become much harder recently due to the lack of a good tracking system in the game.

Pokémon Go originally shipped with a “three step” tracking system displaying one to three footsteps below specific Pokémon on a “nearby” screen, indicating how far or close the player was to the creatures. This was an imperfect system that sometimes made catching Pokémon a hit or miss affair, so it is not surprising that people turned to third party websites like PokéVision for a better way to hunt down those Pokémon.

The likes of PokéVision were certainly helpful, showing each Pokémon type on a map and letting players know how long they would remain there, making it easier to catch those Pikachu or Eevee on any given day…

But in a move that was shocking to some, Pokémon Go creators Niantic decided to shut down services like PokéVision, citing both security concerns and also the fact that the load on their servers was simply too much, as they were preparing to launch the game in other countries. “These seemingly innocuous sites and apps actually hurt our ability to deliver the game to new and existing players” and “freeing those resources allowed us to proceed with the Latin America launch”, said the company in a blog post.


Not only this, but Niantic also removed the game’s three footstep system from the game entirely, leading to a “tracking blackout”, as it forced players to walk randomly in search of Pokémon which appeared on their nearby screen.

Hopefully, though, it appears Niantic is getting ready to roll out a new tracking system, one that actually works and looks likely to make hunting for Pokémon a fun process again… According to this Forbes post, the new tracking system will be based on PokéStops (which are tied to real world landmarks in the game), showing a list of Pokémon on the nearby screen next to a picture of the PokéStop they are near to.

Clicking on this picture will also show the Pokémon’s location on the map, which without a doubt is an enormous improvement on the original tracking system the game shipped with, and is actually quite similar to what PokéVision offered Pokémon Go players before.

So those finding the search for Pokémon frustrating in the game know that a better tracking system is in the works, although the closure of services like PokéVision has clearly been disappointing for many. But thankfully Niantic has now improved communication with its fans and is openly talking about the game’s issues, which is certainly a great thing as more people around the world get to sample the delights of this latest smartphone hit game.