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Niantic CEO explains takedown of third-party Pokemon Go apps

Pokemon Go developer Niantic has explained why it's taking down third-party apps designed to help players locate and catch Pokemon. 

Pokemon Go developer Niantic has explained why it's taking down third-party apps designed to help players locate and catch Pokemon. 

In a blog post that notes the "challenging" nature of running Pokemon Go, Niantic CEO John Hanke said the emergence of third-party apps looking to piggyback off the game's servers has only made things more difficult. 

Pokemon Go's global launch has been a stop-start process at the best of times, with server overloads due to  player demand resulting in a series of setbacks. 

By cutting off those third-party apps from its servers, Hanke says the studio has already freed up considerable resources -- allowing it to greenlight a Latin America launch.

"Since there has been some public discussion about [the blocking of third-party apps], 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," wrote the CEO.

"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."

As well as draining server recourses, Niantic says third-party apps also have an opportunity cost -- in the sense that staff have to spend time combating potential threats rather than working on new features. 

Hanke also points out that some scraper apps serve as platforms for bots and facilitate cheating, negatively impacting all players. 

Ultimately, he says, whether or not the apps were created in good faith, the problems they cause are universal.

"There are a range of motives here, from blatant commercial ventures to enthusiastic fans, but the negative impact on game resources is the same," writes Hanke.

"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."

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