The creators of Pokémon Go have responded to criticism from fans after a recent update to the app crippled or removed a number of popular features. The latest version of the app, released this weekend, removed a (partly broken) pokémon-tracking tool, as well as a battery-saving mode and support for third-party pokémon maps. The game's developers have given a number of reasons for these changes, saying that the tracking feature was "confusing" and that third-party apps interfered with the company's ability to "maintain quality of service" and bring the game to new markets. Basically, too many unofficial apps were putting undue stress on the game's servers.
"We want you to know that we have been working crazy hours."
"We have read your posts and emails and we hear the frustration from folks in places where we haven’t launched yet, and from those of you who miss these features," says the post. "We want you to know that we have been working crazy hours to keep the game running as we continue to launch globally. If you haven’t heard us Tweeting much it’s because we’ve been heads down working on the game."
The message also references fans' anger that the game hasn't yet launched in their country, and calls particular attention to Brazil. "The large number of users has made the roll-out of Pokémon Go around the world an... interesting… challenge," says the post. "And we aren’t done yet! Yes, Brazil, we want to bring the game to you (and many other countries where it is not yet available)." The specific reference to Brazil is likely a response to hackers who compromised the Twitter account of John Hanke, CEO of the app's creator Niantic, and posted messages such as: "This hack for Brazil #POKEMONGOBRAZIL #PokemonGo4Brazil !?"
Niantic is in a difficult and unenviable position. The developers have obviously been caught unawares by Pokémon Go's massive popularity, and now have to balance the tasks of completing an unfinished product while maintaining the game's current quality and introducing it to new markets. All the while, the game's fan-base is itching for more features and creating a lively third-party ecosystem of apps (they've already found a way round the latest restrictions on pokémon-tracking maps). Niantic's parting message in today's Facebook post — that users should "be safe, be nice to your fellow trainers, and keep on exploring" — is the best they can hope for right now.