An Open Letter to Niantic & The PVP Community

Updated: Nov 18

Update August 18 7:47 PM

Niantic was able to read the letter and respond.




Original Letter:


As a group of Community Organizers, Battlers, and Content Creators that truly love Pokémon GO and specifically Friend Battles and GO Battle League, our goal at GO Stadium is to represent those passionate views in this open letter. This message is both to those at Niantic who work hard on the game we know and love and the community at large.



To Niantic,


We would like to begin by recognizing the strides made and thanking those who work extremely hard on the game and specifically the Player vs Player battle feature. You heard feedback with previous versions of the switching mechanic and made changes. Exploits in the game and leaderboard were met with an immediate response and takedown of GO Battle League until fixed. As an example, the ability to switch Pokémon during a Charge Move Tie was most recently fixed, which we greatly appreciated. We want it clear that we truly appreciate the continued support of the feature both in game and on social media through official channels and personal accounts. We see you sharing our excitement for our tournaments and celebrating our achievements, and we want to continue to celebrate yours. So allow us to formally thank you for the feature and the work that you have put into it up until this point.


Following the timeline of updates and fixes, it would appear that some glitches are connected to the fixing of a previous one. For instance, a fix was recently implemented to stop switches during a Charge Move Tie, but with that update switching in general has been much more difficult (examples later). As a group that includes developers of community tools, we understand that issues happen and an update at times has unintended consequences, but seeing how long they take to be officially acknowledged or resolved is disheartening. The goal of this message is to list the most important issues currently inhibiting competitive game play. Needless to say, this message is constructive in nature, and we do not condone toxic behavior of any form directed towards the developers of our beloved game.


Desync and Delay after Charged Moves

Issue Description: Pokémon do not always resume combat simultaneously after Charged Moves. Frequently one Pokémon resumes combat after the other, resulting in lost Fast Moves. Both players should exit the Charged Move minigame at the same time and resume play at the same time.


Note: We would consider this issue high priority as it is highly visible and frustrating for players. Most of the clips below were gathered across multiple games from a single stream, which highlights the prevalence and impact of this issue. This issue and Charged Move tie issues first appeared after an update near the beginning of Season 2. Hopefully this helps track down the changes that may have caused this.


Status: Listed as known issue.


Examples: At 0:22 and 0:38, the player’s Froslass remains inactive for a brief period after Charged Moves. The opponent is able to attack during these periods and wins the matchup due to these extra attacks. (Link)


At 0:05 and 0:19, the player’s Togekiss remains inactive for a brief period after Charged Moves. The opponent’s Giratina resumes combat and is able to attack earlier. (Link)


At 0:18 and 0:30, the player’s Blaziken remains inactive for a brief period after its Charged Moves while the opponent’s Empoleon lands several attacks. (Link)


This example shows both perspectives. At 0:41, one player exits the Charged Move sequence earlier than the other. They are able to attack while their opponent is not. This extra attack allows the Swampert player to win. (Link)


Charged Moves Not Firing When Button Is Pressed

Issue Description: When a player presses the button to fire a Charged Move, the Charged Move doesn’t fire. This can happen for prolonged periods or during Charged Move ties, the 2nd Charged Move may not always fire and must be pressed again by the player.


Status: Listed as known issue.


Examples:


The player repeatedly presses Ice Beam but no action is triggered. The opponent visibly continues to Attack. (Link)


The player repeatedly presses Shadow Punch but no action triggered. The game appears to stop updating, and then Gengar has fainted when the game resumes. (Link)


Charged Moves Buttons Disappear and Player Is Unable to Perform Actions


Issue Description: Buttons such as the Charged Move buttons and the switch button disappear while the player is unable to perform any actions. Opponents are still able to attack when this occurs. This appears to occur after a Pokémon faints.


Status: Listed as known issue.


Examples:

Charged Move buttons are gone and the player is unable to attack. The opponent is able to attack at first, but then the game appears to suspend. (Link)


After the opponent’s Pokémon faints, they send in a new Pokémon but the player’s buttons don’t return and they are unable to attack for a significant period. The spinning loading ball appears for a brief moment when they become able to attack again. (Link)


After the player’s Pokémon faints, they send in a new Pokémon but their buttons don’t return and they are unable to attack. Meanwhile, the opponent continues to attack. The spinning loading ball appears for most the clip. (Link)


After the opponent’s Pokémon faints, the opponent sends in a new Pokémon and the player is unable to attack for a significant period. The spinning loading ball appears for a brief moment when they become able to attack again. This is followed by a several second freeze. (Link)


After the opponent’s Pokémon faints, the opponent sends in a new Pokémon and the player is unable to attack until their Pokémon faints. The opponent is able to attack and switch during this period. (Link)


After the opponent’s Pokémon faints, the opponent sends in a new Pokémon and the player is unable to attack. The spinning loading ball appears for the duration of the clip. (Link)


Wins Are Unrecorded In Journal And Count Against Games Played

Issue Description: After a player wins a game, the win is sometimes not recorded in the journal and not counted as a win in the GO Battle League scorecard, but still counts as a match played.


Note: This glitch appears to happen the least, but is one of the most disheartening when a premium pass, or even a free track, is used and battle won.


Status: Currently is not listed as a known issue. Examples:

In this sequence of screenshots, the player matches against an opponent and wins the battle. The battle isn’t recorded in the journal and counts as a loss in their current battle set.

(Link 1) (Link 2) (Link 3) (Link 4)


In this clip, the player wins a battle. Afterward, the screen fades to black and returns to the GO Battle League menu rather than the victory screen. The win is unrecorded. (Link)


Delay of Fast Moves on Android Issue Description: The Google Play version of the game includes issues where fast moves are lost or delayed for multiple turns.


Status: Currently is not listed as a known issue.

Examples: These clips were given through a reddit thread. (Link) (Link) (Link)


Repeated Throwing of Pokeball During Match

Issue Description: A Pokémon is thrown out repeatedly until a swap occurs. If no forced switches occur, it happens until the end of the match from when it started.


Note: This one, while distracting, is funny & no known harm done.


Status: Currently is not listed as a known issue.

Examples:

In this clip, Venusaur is thrown out repeatedly. This happened throughout the match with all 3 Pokémon but was unable to begin video until the end. (Link)


Inability to Swap

Issue Description: A switch is initiated but is delayed by one turn allowing an opponent to get off a charge move and cancelling the swap.


Note: This glitch was recently discovered in the previous week not allowing swaps to happen while trying to catch a charged move with a different Pokemon.


Status: Currently is not listed as a known issue.


Examples:

Shown in these two clips, a fast move concludes via the user, a switch is initiated but is delayed by one turn allowing an opponent to get off a charge move and cancelling the swap. (Link 1) (Link 2)



To Niantic (cont.),


We understand that those who participate in and enjoy Trainer Battles make up the minority of the playerbase and that resources are normally allocated to features that are relevant to a wider range of players. Those of us who have signed this letter—as well as many others—love the Trainer Battlers feature and would love to see its popularity continue to grow on Twitch, Youtube and other platforms if these issues are acknowledged and resolved faster. If finding and replicating a glitch on video is needed, we are all more than happy to send links to recorded matches or clips to help identify and confirm issues more quickly in the future. In the past, we’ve seen top players create strategies around presumably unintended game mechanics, but the disenfranchisement they have felt over the past five months has pushed them away. Not only that, the prevailing issues prevent the next batch of amazing battlers to rise through ranks and leaderboards and discourages them to participate in GO Battle League and Trainer Battles. We want the feature to be stable and the blog posts on Help Shift where the “contract of trust” was outlined seemed to be a step in that direction (this blog post seems to have been removed as it can not be accessed from the tweet it was linked in).


We enjoy the developer insights and updates when given and that dialogue, even if they can’t be sustained, has helped the community better understand the perspective of the developer and why there might be delays. Server lag is inevitable, and there will always be small issues in every online game. The issues we currently have in the game are prohibitive to competitive play, but we understand that they can be fixed. As said already, we are thankful for the support of the Trainer Battles feature and the amazing work made in previous updates. While we understand that fixing these issues can be resource intensive, we believe that addressing the current major issues will restore enthusiasm around one of the best features within the game—battling with Pokémon we’ve collected and invested in with Trainers and friends from around the world.

To The #Battlers Community,


As battlers, we all have experienced these issues that can be frustrating, especially during competitive play. As a community it is our responsibility to focus on a positive approach and being constructive in nature. We hope this letter captures some of the frustration we have had over the past few months and invites you to join us in helping be part of the solution.


When on social media or even talking to technical support through private means, always be mindful there is a human being on the other side of that screen.

Conclusion


We have put this letter together to both Niantic and the Community from deep admiration for both the game and our fellow battlers. We believe that Trainer Battles and the way that we criticize any associated issues both can be improved and would greatly appreciate to have continued dialogue as much as possible when new issues arise. We hope that through this we can continue to grow the community around the Trainer Battles feature together and enjoy battling with Pokémon and Trainers we’ve met on our journey.

Respectfully Signed & GGs

RamblingRabbit - Community Outreach, GO Stadium

CalebPeng - YouTuber & Rank 10 GBL Battler

KakunaMattata - Developer, PVPoke

ThoTechtical - Twitch Streamer & Rank 10 GBL Battler

MissMystic - Twitch Streamer, Director of Live Events & Head Streamer, GO Stadium

Tangent444 - Rank 10 Battler & Meta Analyst, GO Stadium

Ken - Host, LuredUp Podcast & Editor StadiumCast

John Ryan Evans (JRE) - PvP Analyst, Writer & Contributor, The Silph Arena

TheNut93 - European Ultimate Showdown Champion & Rank 10 GBL Battler

Gehinzel - Founder of London’s Finest & Rank 10 GBL Battler

TorpedoRunner - Head Tournament Manager, GO Stadium

PoGo Joel - YouTuber, Silph League Guide & Local Community Organizer

ValorAsh - Rank 10 GBL Battler, Eastern US Ultimate Showdown Champion & Moderator, GO Stadium

Twastell - Cascadia Clash Champion, Twitch Streamer & Moderator, GO Stadium

AlphaFeeb - Twitch Streamer & Moderator, GO Stadium

PolymersUp - Rank 10 GBL Battler & Moderator, GO Stadium

AJ - Rank 10 GBL Battler, Podcaster, Shoutcaster & Moderator, GO: Stadium

TruInferno - Youtuber & Twitch Streamer Nightwing - PGBLPvP Organizer & Twitch Streamer

Project Origato - AR Photographer & PVP Enthusiast

aLvaR1toOwNz - Rank 10 GBL Battler, Twitch Streamer

Pokebattler.com - Community Resource

JayDevin - Twitch Streamer

MathMagician10

KaiserNeiner - Twitch Streamer

Sonoroman - Youtuber

Toshi - Twitch Streamer

Spieletrend - Rank 10 GBL Battler, Youtuber

Steeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeve - Youtuber



Special Credit to KakunaMattata for compiling the majority of footage & those who submitted to him.


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