Over the last week, Pokémon Go underwent a couple of mechanical changes that players really, really don’t like.
The first, as has been widely reported by now, was a tweak in capture rates for Pokémon Go. If you’ve noticed that monsters are moving around more, and in general are harder to catch, you are not alone. Players around the web everywhere are reporting that they are using more Pokeballs in even low-CP encounters, and that monsters now run away with more ease. Apparently, it is worse the higher level you are, though I’ve noted at least a third of my encounters lately have ended with Pokémon bolting away. Additionally, you may have noticed that the capture rings on even weak monsters is smaller now.
On the one hand, the tweak makes any captures you do make more meaningful, which I like. On the other hand, Pokeballs are a resource for which Niantic can charge money—hence why some players feel so cynical about the whole thing.
The second, more recent change, is a report from Reddit that states that Niantic changed how often the game scans for new monsters, from 5 seconds to 10 seconds. It may sound like a small alteration, but it has big ramifications for players who like to play on anything with wheels, such as cars, or public transportation. “10 second refreshes have the potential to entirely miss Pokemon located towards the outer half of your ‘detection circle,’” explained TheTruckThunders. There is some debate from players on how much this affects players on bikes, but at the very least it has a noticeable effect on cars.
I rode in a car for an hour today and immediately noticed the change: for the most part, monsters didn’t spawn while I was in motion. Instead, Pokémon mostly appeared when the car was standing still at a light, or when it slowed down to about walking speed. Beforehand, Pokémon Go would spawn creatures almost constantly while in motion.
This change may or may not affect you depending on how you like to play, but anecdotally, I’ve found that playing Pokémon Go while in a car is particularly popular, especially for people who live in rural areas where monsters are scarce to begin with. Personally, it always felt a bit like cheating to me to play while in a car, especially given that the whole point of the game is to walk—hence your walking avatar—but I also understand that other players might have different needs and priorities.
What makes these tweaks so grating is that they join a longer list of busted features. By now, you’ve probably heard all about how angry people are about the lack of in-game tracking, and how that alteration forces players to wander around to find anything. But in addition, there’s the faulty egg hatching counter that’s plagued the game since launch, and also, more recently, the bizarre removal of the battery saving option, among other things.
Earlier this week, Niantic assured players that they were “working crazy hours to keep the game running” and that they have been “working on the game” pretty much non-stop. Even so, they can’t catch a break:
It seems that the Pokémon Go honeymoon stage is over...but hey, at least Niantic seems to be communicating more now. It’s a start.
Update 8/4: 5:24 PM: Niantic says that some of the trouble that trainers have been having capturing monsters is due to a glitch, which they are working on: