biweekly updates are no joke. That’s what Pokémon GO developer Niantic Labs promised us at the beginning of the game, and so far, they’ve been up to it, adding tweaks and new features at an impressive clip. This launch has been through some rough patches, but the servers are stable even with new countries coming on line, and the developer learned from its early mistakes and is now communicating regularly and well. So, that’s impressive. But anyone who’s been playing the game since day one knows that there’s really only feature that we’ve been wanting since the first week: a real, functional “nearby” tracker. And we’re still waiting.
A lot of people, myself included, were hoping to get the new nearby tracker this week. Biweekly updates, after all, and two weeks ago was when Niantic started rolling the thing out in San Francisco, which meant it was at least ready for public testing. The good news is that people who have gotten their hands on the new feature have shown it to the Internet, and it looks like a massive improvement over what we’ve got right now (nothing). It basically gives you an in-game solution to what Pokévision offered before being shut down, finally giving you a way to play besides wandering around somewhat aimlessly. It’s a little less encouraging for anyone that can’t afford to pay rent in the most expensive city in America, however.
I’ve been slowing down on Pokémon GO addiction recently, which was inevitable. I’m up to level 25, which has taken a monumental effort, but I’m also rediscovering how much I like to go out for walks when I’m not staring down at my screen hoping to catch virtual monsters. And one of the things that’s made it much easier for me to slack has been the lack of nearby tracking. The thing is, it’s hard to “play” the game right now. Playing consists of going wherever I would go normally and occasionally catching monsters. With a functional tracker, you can actually make going out to collect Squirtle candy an actual activity, bouncing around your neighborhood and following the scent wherever it takes you. Instead, it’s Pidgeys for days.
This week we’ve got appraisals on our Pokémon to tell us how they stack up compared to other Pokémon of its type, which is an excellent addition to the game. But it’s no nearby tracking. I suppose we might be waiting another two weeks or longer, unless Niantic breaks the schedule and lets it out of its cage early. Pokémon GO is bound to see some user bleed as various regions lose the initial wave of excitement, and that’s all perfectly natural and totally fine. But nearby tracking would be gauze on the wound, and it would slow things down enough for Niantic to start rolling out genuine new features, instead of fixes for old ones.