When Pokemon Go swept through the world and picked up hundreds of millions of fans, seemingly overnight, it was inevitable that clever programmers were going to create a map that helped them to better find Pokemon. FastPokeMap was the best one available until Niantic shut it down, but we have some of the better alternatives that are still working in 2017. If you’re still hooked on Pokemon Go, you’ll want to check out our recommended resources for clever Pokemon tracking!
It wasn’t as if Pokemon wasn’t a popular franchise before Pokemon Go arrived on the scene. Simply put, it was only popular with gamers because it was always bound to dedicated gaming hardware. Nintendo consoles were the home of every Pokemon game released, and thus when Pokemon Go arrived on iOS and Android in 2016, it opened a waiting floodgate. Suddenly, people who had heard of Pokemon, or at least were familiar with the name, were able to download this free, augmented reality game. The game is played entirely in the real world, as interpreted through your phone screen. Real locations served as Pokemon Centers, and certain parts of the world were inhabited by specific species of Pokemon.
Though Pokemon is still largely relegated to Nintendo hardware, there hasn’t been a more accessible way to jump into the mythology, before. Pokemon might have been a globally recognized brand, but it’s the first time that people from almost every demographic on the planet started playing a Pokemon game.
And when you bring in so many people, some are bound to want to start getting creative with how they play the game. That’s how Pokemon trackers were born.
The whole premise of Pokemon games is, “Gotta catch ’em all!” The aim of the game is to become a more powerful trainer, sure, but moreover, most people want to catch and evolve every species of Pokemon, and by doing so fill up their Pokedex — a sort of catalog of Pokemon that the trainer has encountered and caught. Because there are so many species of Pokemon (over 150) it’s only natural that people would want a tried-and-true method to find them.
A Pitch for Pokemon Trackers
All in all, the fact that fans were able to build real-world Pokemon trackers is pretty cool. Regardless of Niantic’s stance — which we’ll get to shortly — it’s impressive that programmers were capable of building tools that millions of people could use to track Pokemon literally anywhere in the world. It’s as if social media suffered a head-on collision with gamer culture, and the results were spectacular.
They allowed people to be more efficient with how they played Pokemon Go, and considering how much traveling and collecting was necessary to complete a Pokedex, that’s never a bad thing. And it also speaks to how dedicated some of the fans are.
How Pokemon Trackers Work
Pokemon trackers didn’t even have to be particularly powerful programs. They worked by recording and verifying millions of users’ feedback. When someone caught a particular Pokemon in a specific region, they reported it to the map. Once enough users had verified that same data, it would show up as a blip that anyone using the app could see.
- Now, multiply that activity by thousands, and extend it across the globe, to all of the far reaches where people are playing Pokemon Go.
- It’s easy to see how this could seem like a pretty massive endeavor, right? FastPokeMap, QuickMap, PokeAlert, PokeEye and quite a few others capitalized on the astounding success of Pokemon Go and became heavily downloaded apps in their own right.
- Considering how useful they were, it was a fairly predictable outcome.
The top contender among all of the Pokemon trackers that people were building was easily FastPokeMap. In part, this was because it was incredibly well-designed. Moreover, it’s the app that the fanbase popularly chose to support more than any other. This combination of good coding and strong support led to the little app gaining a massive number of regular Pokemon Go players.
First iterations of FastPokeMap — and several other Pokemon tracking apps — did a majority of their work by accessing Niantic’s Pokemon Go servers. This was by no means a flaw in their apps’ security, but it wasn’t something that the developers predicted. As one might imagine, the studio followed up by taking action against those who were making apps that accessed servers directly.
However, not everything went well for FastPokeMap. Even though the app was regularly updated and entirely safe to use, Niantic didn’t want third-party applications giving certain Pokemon Go players an advantage over others. A ferocious debate followed the initial shutdown of FastPokeMap, and it’s a subject that still isn’t entirely quiet. After all, the game itself has a habit of giving significant advantages to some players, simply because of where they live.
Ask any Pokemon Go fan living in a rural area what the game is like, and they’ll be pretty quick to tell you that they feel relatively abandoned, when compared to players who live in urban areas. Pokemon Centers are more frequent in the latter, and perhaps more importantly, Pokemon could be found with much greater regularity and far greater density. Thus, FastPokeMap was particularly useful for a subset of the game’s fans around the world, and when Niantic shut it down without improving the experience for those players, quite a lot of anger followed.
Thankfully, nobody was ready to give up on the idea of using a Pokemon tracker. When Niantic closed down the Pokemon Go API in order to prevent third-parties’ use of it, players simply turned to other means to track Pokemon.
After FastPokeMap and numerous other apps like it were shut down, they all tried to come back in their various forms. For the most part, none of these efforts succeeded in the way that independent developers hoped that it might. When Niantic patched its servers to lock out third-party usage, they made the Pokemon Go app virtually airtight. There was no way in, and any Pokemon tracker that depended on monitoring those servers wasn’t going to be of much use, any longer.
In lieu of that happening in 2016, player-based methods of Pokemon tracking have emerged much more successfully. Because they’re not dependent on having access to Niantic’s servers, there’s nothing currently threatening their success, either. They might not be as effective or as fast, but at least Pokemon Go players have less to worry about when using them.
The “Crowd-Sourced” Method
Of course, methods of Pokemon tracking that don’t rely on accessing Niantic servers are still working just fine. Because they’re dependent on players — as we mentioned above — there’s nothing to obstruct them from relaying Pokemon positions to other people who are tuning in.
The Global Nest Atlas from SilphRoad is one of the best-known that Pokemon Go players are still using. It’s entirely based on the data collected by players, rather than anything coming from Niantic. And because it doesn’t tie into servers in any particularly questionable way, there’s nothing that anyone is able to do to shut it down. A relief for players who are dependent on a Pokemon tracker to enjoy the game in the first place, since as long as this one is continually receiving support, it isn’t going anywhere.
Unfortunately, this is practically the only option that you can rely upon anymore, with regard to active Pokemon trackers. Niantic’s lockdowns against trackers began in October of 2016, and the situation hasn’t improved since then. Thus, a player informed solution like this is the only thing that’s going to reliably work.
However, none of this should discount that there are actually quite a few Pokemon Go players that are not in favor of the use of scanners. Because the use of such applications does present an advantage that isn’t built into the game itself, some have argued that any use of them at all is unfair to those who choose to only utilize the Pokemon Go app, without third-party resources.
And much in the same way that Pokemon Go players are still trying to find the best way to track Pokemon, the debate continues against the use of them at all. As long as the game maintains its status quo — it’s still quite popular, so it’s likely — that debate isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
Hopefully, we’ve helped you to understand a little bit more about the use of Pokemon trackers for Pokemon Go.
FastPokeMap doesn’t look like it’s coming back anytime soon, but the alternatives we’ve suggested above are going to be your best bet, in the meantime.
Trackers that tapped into Niantic’s servers were all but extinguished back in 2016, and in 2017, the only true alternative solutions we have are those like the Global Nest Atlas, that depend on player-provided information. For those who enjoyed using live-trackers when Pokemon Go was first released, it’s a bit of sour news for an otherwise fun game. But for those who never cared much for third-party trackers in the first place, it’s a step in the right direction of making sure that all players are afforded the same gaming experience.