Niantic Explains Why It Had To Put A Stop To Third-Party Pokemon Go Apps

Pokemon Go screens-970-80

A sizeable portion of Pokemon Go‘s playerbase isn’t particularly happy with the changes developer Niantic has made to the mobile game over the last couple of weeks. Since launching last month, the augmented reality game has once again catapulted the Pokemon franchise into the realms of worldwide phenomenon, encouraging the creation of third-party apps and websites that aim to help trainers find the more elusive creatures out in the world.

Niantic seemingly wasn’t too happy about the idea though, and removed the ‘Steps’ system from their code that outlets like PokeVision relied on, putting an immediate halt to external support. While it was unclear until now why exactly the developer decided on such a move, a recent post on the Pokemon Go blog has provided an understandable motive.

Running a product like Pokémon GO at scale is challenging. Those challenges have been amplified by third parties attempting to access our servers in various ways outside of the game itself.

As some of you may have noticed we recently rolled out Pokémon GO to Latin America including Brazil. We were very excited to finally be able to take this step. We were delayed in doing that due to aggressive efforts by third parties to access our servers outside of the Pokémon GO game client and our terms of service. We blocked some more of those attempts yesterday. Since there has been some public discussion about this, we wanted to shed some more light on why we did this and why these seemingly innocuous sites and apps actually hurt our ability to deliver the game to new and existing players. The chart below shows the drop in server resources consumed when we blocked scrapers. Freeing those resources allowed us to proceed with the Latin America launch.


The above graph essentially says everything you need to know. Despite the good intentions of most third-party apps, it appears as if their constant requests to access Niantic’s servers was causing huge strain, no doubt contributing to the frustrating crashes and outages reported by players on a regular basis. Furthermore, the studio also reveals that not all such programs have good intentions, and that they’ve had to deal with cheaters and hackers on a regular basis.

Sadly, no comment is made over the possibility in the future of letting certain third-party apps back in to the fold, but don’t hold your breath:

“We don’t expect these attempts to stop,” said the company. “But we do want you to understand why we have taken the steps we have and why we will continue to take steps to maintain the stability and integrity of the game.”