It’s been a troubled few days for Niantic, Pokémon Go, and the app’s user base of dedicated (and frustrated) players. Niantic’s latest updates, such as the removal of the three-step tracker, were not welcome by players nor the app’s continued problems, such as the known crashing when a Pokémon is captured. Silence on Niantic’s part added to the community’s frustration, until a Facebook post late Monday night alleviated some concerns.
A glance at the community’s response show that a little acknowledgement can go a long way.
“And that is all we ever needed,” wrote a Reddit user named AllUnits in a massive comment thread on Niantic’s response. “Niantic used communication. It is super effective!” wrote another Redditor, making a cute reference to the old Pokémon game dialogue.
Others aren’t as convinced. “They’ve basically said nothing,” wrote aka_Foamy, “At least they’ve said nothing if like me you’ve trusted that they were working to fix things out of professional pride and wern’t [sic] just rolling around in all their micro transaction cash.
“If this kind of response was given to many other player bases, it would’ve just pissed a lot of people off,” wrote thegil13 in agreement. “They basically said ‘we know what were doing, just wait and see.’ No response on WHY they removed a system without a backup system ready.”
“As many of you know, we recently made some changes to Pokémon GO,” the beginning of Niantic’s post reads. “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 [removed] features. 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. But we’ll do our best going forward to keep you posted on whats going on.”
Elsewhere, Niantic stated it removed the three-step tracker “to improve upon the underlying design.” While Niantic acknowledged it was “enjoyed by many,” they ultimately deemed it “confusing.” Niantic promises to keep fans posted as they attempt to make improvements.
Niantic also said it removed third-party apps (such as the popular Pokevision) because it prevented Niantic from maintaining “quality of service” to users as the game expands. Essentially, the third-party apps slowed down service for everyone, which made continued roll out to the game a headache.
David Bass, a former community manager for the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, wrote a breakdown of Niantic’s community response on Medium. “[T]here are a couple important lessons I’ve learned over the years that are so clearly missing from Niantic Labs,” Bass writes. In discussing Niantic’s three-step feature, Bass says if players use a feature wrong, it’s a failure on design, not players.
“Any experienced game designer will tell you that players will take the path of least resistance, and if your design doesn’t take that into account, it will fall apart once it hits the public arena.”
Regarding Niantic’s spotty customer service and general community managing, Bass offers this:
“This isn’t the time or place to try and elicit some pity. I know this sucks to hear, but you [sic] players aren’t concerned about how many hours you’re working. I’ve deleted sentences like this so many times from my posts, because at best it has a net-zero effect … Don’t open up the door to that kind of response, just cut it from the post.”
“Also don’t capitalize ‘tweeting,’” he added.
Still, the community agrees that hearing from Niantic is better than not at all. There’s optimism Niantic will hold up its promise of better and more frequent updates than over the last few weeks. Pokémon Go is a legit phenomenon and while it’s inexcusable that a company didn’t have suitable customer service, it’s indisputable that there’s been nothing quite like Pokémon Go ever before.
“Now we need this to happen more frequently,” wrote another commenter.Photos via Getty Images / Tomohiro Ohsumi