Pokemon GO players are voicing their frustration at the GPS drifting problem that they say plagues the game. Problems with GPS drifting, which has reportedly been for several months, mean that Pokemon GO is unable to properly recognize where a player actually is.
The game may wander off to a distant location far away from the player, causing a real headache. For example, if a player aims to take on a Gym but the game GPS drifts away from the location, they will have to do it all over again. Combined with soft bans that prevent them from re-battling the Gym for at least 10 minutes and Pokemon needing to be revived despite not having a “proper” shot at the Gym, and it’s easy to see why so many are frustrated.
On Pokemon GO‘s official subreddit, several players have described their recent and unfortunate encounters with the bug, with one player’s screenshot (pictured below) showing that they were hundreds of meters away from the location that the game thought they were standing on. Another said that they teleport in a similar fashion “a couple times a week” with the game moving them halfway across their college campus. In one extreme case, Pokemon GO thought that the player was standing in the middle of the River Thames (in London, England) despite the player actually being in California in the United States.
It should be noted that some players purposefully achieve GPS drifting in Pokemon GO, recreating the problem to their own advantage. Back in November, for example, a player on the PoGO gamepress said that as they have difficulty leaving the house due to their full-time work from home job, drifting can help them bypass the walking requirements for egg hatching, thus letting them enjoy the game.
Others, though, use it to abuse the game, using it to get ahead in the game (for example, to get more freebies from PokeStops) and it’s why the game often flags these players as “spoofers” when it sees they’re doing bad. Those (unintentionally) affected by the bug say that they fear being flagged too. It’s also why the game’s developer Niantic aimed to address the issue in a Pokemon GO update in January. This update changed distance tracking to account for the problem, but clearly it did not do the trick.
Unfortunately it’s unclear exactly if or when Niantic will get around to fixing the issue as the developer has a lot of other things on its to-do list. Pokemon GO is getting three major updates this year, one of which at least is expected to be the long-awaited Pokemon GO trading feature. If players are still able to abuse GPS drifting by then to hatch eggs and access harder to reach Pokemon, then that could create even more of an unfair advantage for spoofers and so many players will have their fingers crossed that Niantic works to address the problem once more.
Pokemon GO is available on iOS and Android.