The trackers apparently added to the server stress the game was experiencing- which is a very reasonable explanation for the shutdown in my books.
One of the more controversial changes to the game that developers Niantic have made ever since the launch of Pokemon GO was the removal of the third party tracking apps that allowed players to pinpoint where Pokemon that they wanted were, and then go and catch them. The shutdown generated a lot of backlash and discontent with the playerbase, the problem further compounded by the fact that the actual in game tracking function that the game had at launch had also been disabled by Niantic some time back.
However, now, in a recent blog post, Niantic explained exactly why they had to make the difficult decision to do what they did, noting that these services and apps were adding greatly to the server stress that the game was experiencing, and that they had to prioritize completing the rollout of Pokemon GO across the world- which meant reducing server stress in any way possible.
“Running a product like Pokémon GO at scale is challenging. Those challenges have been amplified by third parties attempting to access our servers in various ways outside of the game itself,” they said.
“As some of you may have noticed we recently rolled out Pokémon GO to Latin America including Brazil. We were very excited to finally be able to take this step. We were delayed in doing that due to aggressive efforts by third parties to access our servers outside of the Pokémon GO game client and our terms of service. We blocked some more of those attempts yesterday. Since there has been some public discussion about this, we wanted to shed some more light on why we did this and why these seemingly innocuous sites and apps actually hurt our ability to deliver the game to new and existing players. The chart below shows the drop in server resources consumed when we blocked scrapers. Freeing those resources allowed us to proceed with the Latin America launch.”
They shared a graph showing the kind of server traffic that these services contribute, which you can see below. Further elaborating on their reasoning for the shutdown of the tracking services, they said, “In addition to hampering our ability to bring Pokémon GO to new markets, dealing with this issue also has opportunity cost. Developers have to spend time controlling this problem vs. building new features. It’s worth noting that some of the tools used to access servers to scrape data have also served as platforms for bots and cheating which negatively impact all Trainers. There is a range of motives here from blatant commercial ventures to enthusiastic fans but the negative impact on game resources is the same.
“Of course, there are also outright hackers out there attempting to break into systems, hijack social media accounts, and even bring down the service. Some of them have posted publicly about their attempts.
“We don’t expect these attempts to stop. But we do want you to understand why we have taken the steps we have and why we will continue to take steps to maintain the stability and integrity of the game.”
They did conclude that they would continue to try to communicate better with players, and also that they would add more new features to the game- but that players should not expect those until the game is on stable footing. Hopefully that actually happens soon, some time.