Archive for the ‘pokemon go’ Category
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Niantic's first attempt at a live Pokémon Go gathering in Chicago last week went so badly that attendees are organizing a class-action lawsuit after shoddy cell reception prevented most of the 20,000 attendees from playing the game during the paid event. In the wake of that fiasco, the Pokémon Go developers are postponing long-planned similar events in Copenhagen, Prague, Stockholm, and Amsterdam that were set for the coming weeks.
In a statement, Niantic said the European "Safari Zone" events originally scheduled for August 5 and 12 would be pushed back to some time in the fall "in order to guarantee the best possible gameplay experience for European Trainers." Other events planned for France, Spain, and Germany will still take place in September, however, and a "Pikachu Outbreak" planned for Yokohama, Japan will still take place in August.
The Safari Zone events were billed as a chance for European players to catch Pokémon that rarely or never show up in the region and to team up for multiplayer battles against Raid Bosses. "As a special surprise, we understand that some Pokémon that are rarely seen in Europe will be appearing soon in certain European cities for a brief time," Niantic writes by way of apology. "We apologize for any inconvenience and hope you understand that our priority is to ensure a great experience for Pokémon Go Trainers in Europe and around the world.
By many accounts, the Pokemon Go Fest in Chicago last week was a failure of epic proportions. The main thing that many festival-goers found—instead of make-believe characters in the game—was themselves standing in huge lines and without Internet at a 20,000-person party to celebrate the augmented reality game's first year in operation.
Things were so bad that many fans couldn't even log into the game because of server problems and overloaded cell towers at the Grant Park festival. The tickets had a face value of $20, but sold for much more on the secondary market because of high demand.
"I know that some of you guys have had trouble getting logged on this morning, and I wanted to let you know that we're working with the cell companies—AT&T, Sprint, Verizon—trying to get that worked out," Niantic's chief executive, John Hanke, told the crowd July 22.
A judge on Thursday declared as unconstitutional a local Wisconsin ordinance mandating that the makers of augmented reality games get special use permits if their mobile apps were to be played in county parks. The law—the nation's first of its kind—was challenged on First Amendment grounds amid concerns it amounted to a prior restraint of a game maker's speech. What's more, the law was seemingly impossible to comply with.
The federal lawsuit was brought by a Southern California company named Candy Lab. The maker of Texas Rope 'Em—an augmented reality game with features like Pokemon Go—sued Milwaukee County after it adopted an AR ordinance in February in the wake of the Pokemon Go craze. Because some of its parks were overrun by a deluge of players, the county began requiring AR makers to get a permit before their apps could be used in county parks.
The permitting process also demanded that developers perform the impossible: estimate crowd size, event dates, and the times when mobile gamers would be playing inside county parks. The permits, which cost as much as $1,000, also required that developers describe plans for garbage collection, bathroom use, on-site security, and medical services. Without meeting those requirements, augmented reality publishers would be in violation of the ordinance if they published games that included playtime in Milwaukee County parks.
That level of craze eventually died down, of course. Within a couple of months, the number of daily users had sunk to about 30 million. By the end of the year, that figure was closer to just five million. And then... the haemorrhaging stopped. Today, Pokémon Go continues to have around five million daily users and 65 million monthly active users, according to game developer Niantic. It's still one of the most popular mobile games in the world and still generating vast amounts of money.
Over its first year, Pokémon Go garnered as many headlines for offline activities as it did for the popular gameplay itself. The gaming community became so smitten it offered the title a Dreamcast port and the "Twitch Plays" treatment. And following a string of Pokemon Go-adjacent crime reports, the game's privacy situation caught the attention of everyone from US Senator Al Franken to filmmaker-turned-surveillance advocate Oliver Stone.
It's been just a month since Pokémon Go players began noticing that Niantic had started "shadowbanning" accounts that use third-party trackers and bot software, limiting them so they only see common Pokémon. Now, the company is going further to ensure ill-gotten beasts are publicly identified as such and don't negatively impact the multiplayer experience.
With the announcement of Raid Battles and the new battle features, we are staying true on our commitment to ensuring that Pokémon Go continues to be a fun and fair experience for all Trainers. Starting today, Pokémon caught using third-party services that circumvent normal gameplay will appear marked with a slash in the inventory and may not behave as expected. We are humbled by the excitement for all the new features we announced yesterday. This is one small part of our continued commitment to maintaining the integrity of our community and delivering an amazing Pokémon Go experience.
What Niantic means by Pokémon "not behav[ing] as expected" is unclear, but the wording suggests these beasts may not be effective in the game's recently announced raid battle and expanded gym features. That coming overhaul will allow six unique Pokémon to be assigned to each individual gym, and it will let players team up for cooperative raids against ultra-powerful Pokémon. We're guessing Pokémon marked with a slash won't be able to fight for those coveted gym slots, at the very least.
A First Amendment issue is brewing in federal court over a local Wisconsin ordinance—the nation's first—that requires publishers of augmented reality mobile games like Pokemon Go and Texas Rope 'Em to get a special use permit if their apps require gamers to play in Milwaukee County parks.
A Southern California company called Candy Lab, the maker of Texas Rope 'Em, is suing the county over the requirement that was adopted in February in the wake of the Pokemon Go craze that resulted in a Milwaukee county park being overrun by a deluge of players. The permit, which costs as much as $1,000, requires estimates for crowd size and the event dates and times. It also calls for plans about garbage collection, bathroom use, on-site security, and medical services.
Candy Lab says it's impossible to comply with the permit for it fledgling app. Candy Lab can neither realistically answer the permit's questions (PDF) nor afford to pay for the other requirements like on-site security when users of its platform hunt for a winning hand in its augmented reality version of Texas Hold 'Em. Like Niantic's Pokemon Go, Candy Lab's app is built to be played in designated parks and other areas. These types of mobile apps provide users with an augmented and interactive view of the park.
Pokémon Go developer Niantic appears to have opened up a new front in its ongoing war against third-party tools and trackers that use bot accounts to reveal where in-game Pokémon are hiding in the real world. Players are reporting that detected and flagged accounts are being limited so they can only see common Pokémon—not the most coveted, rarer beasts.
Pokemon Go Hub reported on the new security measure earlier this week, showing screenshots where two different accounts in the same exact location showed different Pokémon on their "nearby" lists. The site estimates that tens to hundreds of thousands of accounts may have been blinded in this way, based on reports from inside the Pokémon Go hacking community.
That said, reports suggest the enforcement has been somewhat sporadic, with "some botters claiming zero accounts blinded, and others reporting complete annihilation of their account farm," according to Pokémon Go Hub. And while bot-makers can create free new accounts to try to get around the blinding, The Silph Road subreddit reports that many new accounts seem to be blinded quickly and automatically, signaling a change from the more manual ban waves Niantic has issued to bot makers periodically. Some suspect Niantic is making use of machine-learning algorithms to detect bots quickly while limiting false-positive punishments on legitimate accounts (the company was publicly searching for a Machine Learning Engineer last year).
The task of catching 'em all in Pokemon Go will soon get a little tougher. The smartphone game's developers at Niantic announced the game's biggest expansion yet, coming "this week," which will add a grand total of "more than 80" creatures introduced in the series' Game Boy Color games Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver. When the update goes live, those characters will be seen wandering around your real world, as opposed to requiring a more obtuse method of discovery (i.e., hatching eggs).
But the bigger news may be the other tweaks coming to the game alongside so many 'Mon—and how these all seem designed to open wallets to more of the game's microtransactions.
When Pokémon Go launched in the US the first week of July 2016, it marked the biggest augmented-reality gaming craze to date. The product of a years-long collaboration between game developer Niantic and Google (which fostered Niantic as an internal start-up before its spin-off), Pokémon Go relied heavily on Google's cloud platform and application services to provide the infrastructure behind the game. (Nintendo and Pokémon also had a hand in the little monsters’ evolution as an immersive mobile gaming experience.)
This was not Niantic's first augmented reality rodeo. The company had previously developed Ingress, an augmented reality alien invasion game, first released publicly in 2013 for Android devices. But Pokémon Go was an entirely different beast—Pokémon was already a cultural touchstone, and the game tapped into an audience that had been hungry for a mobile game for years. So adoption of the game took off like a rocket, shooting to No. 1 in iPhone revenues within half a day. By some measures, it was the biggest mobile game launch ever.
But its escape trajectory put some strain on the platform; two days into the launch, Niantic CEO John Hanke announced that the company was delaying the international rollout of Pokémon Go, citing overloaded servers as the culprit. Meanwhile, there were privacy concerns regarding how Niantic had leveraged Google's identity and location services, and the company had to manage deploying a raft of bug fixes while coping with capacity problems.