The story of Niantic CEO John Hanke is an overnight success story for the ages, and probably one of the biggest of the current decade. A person who does some development for Google eventually makes a startup within Google, centered around a game. That same person breaks their company off from Google, then makes a deal with the right people to merge his game with a decades-long cultural phenomenon and goes from well-respected in the tech circle to a genuine household name on release day. Up until now, though, his hectic schedule didn’t leave much time for interviews, leaving fans to wonder what he thought of all of these developments. Recently, Hanke made time for a few interviews, and one particular interview brings up some interesting morality points concerning Pokemon GO.
When asked what he thought of “cheat sites” that let people see the locations of Pokemon around them, Hanke made his disapproval quite clear in short order. He said he was “not a fan”, and that fans using such sites were only hurting themselves by taking a bit of the fun and magic out of the game. It can be argued, of course, that stumbling upon wild Pokemon unexpectedly is a big part of the magic, but on the same token, players who want certain Pokemon and are tired of all the Pidgey and Rattata in their area, such as busy parents, may find the game much more rewarding with the use of such tools. While some of these are crowdsourced, most such tools, unfortunately, pull data illicitly and directly from Niantic’s servers, which is a violation of the terms of service and can get users who take advantage of these tools banned.
Interestingly, Hanke said that users will find over time that such tools may end up not working. Speculation on the nebulous statement could essentially go one of two ways; either Hanke plans to somehow shut those tools down, or the way the game works will shift on a fundamental level and break the backend hacks and tunnels that those tools are using. Hanke did note, however, that he didn’t mind users finding ways to hatch eggs without walking, calling the practice “creative and funny”, and saying that users doing such things were cheating themselves out of a good walk, which is part of the point of the game.