Pokémon Go has a word of warning for those players using third-party map applications: Stop or you could be banned. Niantic said that even if players didn’t realize what they were doing was against the terms of service, these apps “can have an effect similar to DDoS attacks” on the game’s servers.
The good news is that for banned players who used these apps without realizing their impact, Niantic is lifting the punishment… for now. However, the studio said that it will continue to be vigilant in putting an end to the use of these add-on maps: “Our main priority is to provide a fair, fun, and legitimate experience for all players, so aggressive banning will continue to occur for players who engage in these kinds of activities.”
This week’s Massively Overthinking question comes to us from Patron Duane, who asks,
“Do you take simple joy in MMO mechanics that are often referred to pejoratively, like monster/crafting/gathering grinds, linear gameplay/storyline, or casual design?”
It’s tempting to say no way, we play the way we want, isn’t it? But I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling embarrassed about playing certain games or indulging in certain types of gameplay. A podcast listener once called me out on that as I tried to make excuses for why I was playing World of Warcraft, as if I subconsciously or consciously thought it wrecked my street cred to be playing it unironically.
So let’s tackle Duane’s question. What are your guilty pleasures in MMORPGs? What MMO gameplay bits do you adore in spite of everyone else’s snobbishness?
In yesterday’s Pokemon Go post, we alluded to an awful car accident in Japan caused by a truck driver who admitted to playing Pokemon Go while driving. He plowed into two women crossing the street in Tokushima, killing one of them, and was subsequently arrested, though the prefecture has yet to decide whether to prosecute him.
Reuters reports today that a Nintendo spokesman has “offered condolences” and said “Pokemon Company and Niantic endeavor to create an environment where people can play the game safely and we will continue to do that.” The game already pops up a warning window when it detects the player moving at driving speed.
Please don’t drive distracted.
Superdata’s July report
on online gaming revenues is in, and there are some predictable bits and some surprises. On the P2P MMO front, the lineup is exactly the same as last month, with World of Warcraft
coming out on top, followed by the popular-in-China Fantasy Westward Journey II
, Lineage I
, Star Wars: The Old Republic
, and TERA’s
What’s new to the lists is Guild Wars 2: It showed up this month as #4 for “top-grossing premium PC games by revenue” behind Overwatch, CS:GO, and Minecraft. Whoa. Apparently the new seasonal content was a big draw.
Pokemon Go also debuted in the mobile lists this month as literally the most successful mobile launch in history. Sorry, other mobile games. And Overwatch dropped down to fifth place on consoles, what the firm calls “an expected result of pay-to-play games’ upfront monetization strategy.”
As always, we must point out that Superdata’s categorization will likely not align with most MMO players’ definitions; for example, it considers games like SWTOR and TERA pay-to-play rather than free-to-play like League of Legends, and it lists games like LoL and World of Tanks as MMOs.
The mobile ARG powerhouse of Pokémon Go appears to be losing players, and not just drivers who hit people due to focusing on the game instead of the road. Data from Axiom Capital Management reported by Bloomberg show that the game is already down 12 million players from its height of 45 million, with engagement on a daily basis also falling off significantly. The downturn is significant, especially a mere two months after launch, and ties into earlier thoughts regarding the game’s long-term viability.
Of course, it’s worth noting that the game still has millions of players and has yet to launch in several key territories, including China and South Korea. It’s far too early to mark the game as a lost cause or even dying. But it would be fair to say that the honeymoon period with the game seems to be coming to a close, and its long-term future is perhaps not a foregone conclusion.
Pokemon Go’s latest patch finally makes the team leaders do something.
“Implemented Pokémon Appraisal: Trainers will now be able to learn about a Pokémon’s attack and defense capabilities from their Team Leader (Candela, Blanche or Spark) to determine which of their Pokémon have the most potential for battle.”
Just kidding — as Kotaku puts it, Spark will just “ask if you want some of the glue he’s eating.” Poor Spark.
Meanwhile, there have apparently been Pokemon Go-related stampedes (I hate to call them that since they are relatively organized and no one appears to be injured?) in crowded areas of Taiwan. We’ll embed one below. Crowds like this freak me out, so I’m not watching it twice.
A Pokemon Go player who legitimately racked up more experience than anyone thought possible was apparently soft banned thanks to Niantic’s anti-cheat algorithms.
Austin, Texas, player Jimmy Derocher came up with a 0.2 mile loop that he could repeat to earn a million experience in the game in just one day, which he then livestreamed to prove there was no cheating going on. But after about half a day of his loop — and 600,000 XP — the game’s anti-cheat code kicked in, effectively soft-banning him for 24-hours.
Derocher raised money for charity during the stream thanks to watchers on Facebook. Hopefully, he’s also raised some awareness in Niantic that its anti-cheat measures need a bit more work so they don’t flag legit players.
As some readers may know, I’ve spent the last few years in Japan trying to tackle the local gaming scene, online and off. While Japan may be the birthplace of gaming, it doesn’t always feel that way, especially for a western gamer. The large amount of gaming swag, existence of Akihabara as a geek Mecca, and emphasis on large, difficult multi-player experiences masks underlying cultural norms that make nearly all hobbies as an adult something of a private matter. While MassivelyOP’s coverage of Pokemon Go makes the game seem like an international socialization sensation, there are specific practices that make international scenes somewhat different from how our readers in North America and Europe may experience them in their part of the world.
Japan’s PGO culture in particular may be somewhat different than expected, so before I really experience how things are in America, I want to describe what I’ve experienced in the series’ birthplace.
Bye, Pokemon Go cheaters.
Niantic confirmed in a blog post last night that it’s cracking down not just on the cheat apps but on the people using them.
“After reviewing many reports of in-game cheating, we have started taking action against players taking unfair advantage of and abusing Pokémon GO,” the company said. “Moving forward, we will continue to terminate accounts that show clear signs of cheating. Our main priority with Pokémon GO is to provide a fair, fun, and legitimate game experience for all players. If our system has determined that you cheated, then you will receive an email stating that your account has been terminated.”
Previously, players who’d used GPS spoofing cheats and bots reported receiving soft bans, meaning they could log in but not catch ’em all, but these new bans shut down accounts permanently.
Niantic does say that anyone who believes he or she was wrongfully banned can lodge an appeal.
Gaming research firm SuperData has teamed up with the Guinness World Records organization to award Pokemon Go a number of records and accolades. According to the Guinness site, the game is now #1 in a bunch of categories:
- most revenue grossed by a mobile game in its first month,
- most downloaded mobile game in its first month,
- most international charts topped simultaneously for a mobile game in its first month (in terms of both downloads and revenue), and
- fastest time to gross $100 million by a mobile game.
All that and it’s still not out in some of the biggest countries in the world.
People around the globe are becoming less and less amused with the messes created in their neighborhoods by Niantic’s Pokemon Go app.
The AP reports that the mayor of Bressolles, France, has issued demands to Niantic that it remove unauthorized Pokemon — so, all of them — from the village, citing the potential for danger to pedestrians and drivers as well as for “dangerous addiction” among young people (though there have apparently been no incidents there yet). Regardless of the recorded injury, however, the mayor is displeased with Niantic’s treating of the “entire planet as its playground” and says the settlement of virtual Pokemon is “anarchical” when done without permission.
Go ahead and look up Bressolles; people are already having fun with it.
Pokemon Go is the subject of yet another lawsuit: A Michigan couple is suing Niantic, Nintendo, and the Pokemon Company in federal court. The pair say that a Pokestop and Pokegym in the park next to their home has caused hundreds of players to invade their yard on the daily, destroying landscaping, peering into vehicles, and preventing anyone from sleeping. They petition the court in their class action to force Niantic et al. to block its GPS-bound virtual locations when they are on or near private property and share profits with private citizens who have been terrorized since the game’s launch.
In other Pokeymans news,
There are a lot of unofficial Pokemon games out there on the internet, including MMOs, games that filled the gap Nintendo left. One such fan-made, non-profit title was called Pokemon Uranium. In development for nine years, it launched on August 6th… and has already closed down, or at least will stop distributing copies officially. In spite of seeing 1.5M downloads since launch, the developers wrote that they wanted to respect Nintendo’s wishes (though they hadn’t received any legal notices themselves). The game, however, is still functional for those who have copies, and it’ll keep on getting updates too.
Here’s what else happened in Pokemon Go over the weekend:
- Volkswagen joins the roster of companies sending around internal memos to employees warning them not to play Pokemon Go — indeed, to strip it from their phones — lest they unwittingly engage in corporate espionage via location tracking, camera activation, and data sharing.
- If you think bots cheapen the fun of Pokemon Go, cheer a little cheer: Polygon reports that in the wake of Niantic’s new FAQ, which states that players using bots or location spoofers will be banned, many of the larger bots are shutting themselves down voluntarily, even before a takedown notice has been received.