Wow... so the in-game tracker was broken and is now effectively useless. Pokemon are much more resistant to pokeballs and run at the drop of a hat. AND third party tracking sites are being shut down, so people have no way to find pokemon except to wander around aimlessly and waste a tonne of pokeballs.
This reeks of a company wanting people to spend more real money to buy more supplies in-game vs wanting people to enjoy capturing and collecting pokemon.
Let's compare two gaming experiences:
In the first, one plays the game by itself. One would wander around aimlessly, only able to see game related locations relatively nearby. There is NO global map or historical map of where you've been and what pokestops you've seen or gyms you've seen. You have no idea where pokemon are. The grass thing? Yeah.. doesn't really work. The tracking thing? It could be showing you pokemon that are 1-2 city blocks away... with no way to indicate direction. So you wander and wanter aimlessly or repeatedly around the same region, wondering what is up with the tracker and trying to keep stocked up on pokeballs. Or you pay real money for in-game money to keep your pokeball supplies up. Gets old real fast.
In the second situation, you ignore the in-game "tracker" (I use that term in quotes because it has been a PITA/useless.) and use a third party tracking site, like PokeVision. You have a much better sense of where things are in the game, and you head in that direction. Along the way, surprise! You meet up with other people who are heading there too! You make new friends and go hunting pokemon together. You actually travel to different places because you now KNOW of different places. IF you are a hardcore gamer, you shell out real money for in-game money to buy things.. but if you are a casual gamer, you now know where to get refills of things and play on your own schedule(or drive around at night in a group with a driver, navigator, and community game handling...)+Niantic +Niantic Project
and +The Pokémon Company
going and basically never fixing the in-game tracker, making the pokemon harder to catch(runs very often, resists pokeballs much harder, etc) and shutting down third party sites(ala PokeVision) through whatever means... (I'm guessing legal, since these 3rd party sites are violating ToS and so are the users of these sites) is basically crippling the user experience.
Niantic/PokemonCompany/Nintendo is calling these third party sites cheating. Mmm.. sure. Technically, anything you use that isn't part of the game, to gain an advantage, can be considered cheating. But it can also be read as the features that people who play your game actually want to see working in your game.
Ie, things like:
* A real working map system.
* A real working tracking system.
* A game that doesn't require 100% network uptime to maintain state or fail in amazing ways otherwise. (I realize this is to do stateful tracking and prevent cheaters from changing the game state, but if you've walked several blocks to get items from a pokestop and the game dies, it's a PITA.)
* ACTUAL INSTRUCTIONS/GUIDANCE from Niantic/PokemonCo/Nintendo.
The game maintainers can talk about "fairness" and "multi-user balance"/etc. all they want, but the facts are, the game came with no instructions on how it works and people were forced to fumble their way through a game and developed their own means of playing the game. The tools and services that sprung up are good indicators of the working things that people would like in the game. But instead of innovating and fixing obviously broken things in the game, they choose to shutdown useful services(granted, still in violation of ToS) instead of releasing an update that would make those services obsolete.
* Actual working map. Sure, reveal pokestops/etc ONLY AFTER someone visits them. But let people see a map of where they have been/etc.
* Actual working tracker. A radar ping type interface would be good. Maybe have people spend pokecoins on better tracker upgrades, like ones that indicate how much longer a pokemon will be around so they know not to chase after what are effectively unobtainable ghosts.
* I don't know... instructions from the makers?
Up till now, the game has been fun. But with the recent update, what if feels like is the makers of the game squeezing the players for real money. Make it harder/impossible to find pokemon. Make the pokemon use up more pokeballs and supplies to catch. Which in turn makes it harder to get materials to upgrade and evolve pokemon and to level up the trainer. Which greatly increases the amount of time or money people have to put into the game to make advancements.
Which is a very wrong direction for such a popular and successful, despite the many issues, game to go...
Third party sites making the game less fun? No, if anything, the third party sites are unlocking the fun that is what the game should be like. I see this first hand with the roving parties of PokemonGo players in my neighborhood. Parties as small as 2-3 and as larger as 2-3 dozen.
Seriously though, fix your game's shortcomings. Shortcomings as seen through the eyes of the players, not the investors. If the third party sites' usage has caused a decline in in-app sales, how about figuring out a way to work with them vs just shutting them down?