Pokémon Go Has A Feature That Nobody Knows How To Use

So, for those who have been living somewhere under a rock in the middle of the Carribean sea, Pokemon Go came out last week and lots of people are playing it. It’s been a huge hit, and people all over the world are currently enjoying catching Pokemon out in the real world.

The game isn’t overly complex, but then again, neither are its functions explained in great detail. One function in particular has been niggling at players, causing quite a great deal of annoyance. Problem is, it’s one of the games most used features to boot.

Source: androidpit.com

Source: androidpit.com

The “Nearby” function is theoretically supposed to show you the variety of Pokemon in the area that you’re in, and your distance from each of them. Unless previously caught, only the silhouette of the Pokemon is shown (usually easily guessable however). The distance is represented by pawprints – the greater the number, the further away the Pokemon is.

Now, you would think this feature would typically be one of, if the not the most, used while playing the game. The main point of being a Pokemon trainer is to “catch ‘em all”, after all. However, the feature developer Niantic have currently supplied players with is pretty……well, shit.


There’s no accurate distance to be figured out of from the pawprints. Some people claim that a single pawprint indicates around 50 metres. Then again, the go-to Pokemon factoid site Serebii says that one pawprint actually indicates 20 metres. In that case, two pawprints is 40 metres, and three represent 60 metres? No. According to Serebii, two pawprints are 100 metres, and three means 1000 metres, or 1 kilometre.

Right. Totally logical.

Even being on right on top of a Pokemon (no pawprints) induces a frantic, random search that involves far more work than it should do. If my phone tells me a Pikachu is so close to me I could smell it Poke-fart, I shouldn’t have to spend 20 minutes climbing on top of bins and scrambling under cars for it to grace me with its presence.

Some people think they have a formula nailed down. Redditor TheColourlessPill came up with a formula (shown in the photo below, kindly done by Redditor DJ Toaster) that they think helps narrow down catching those wily Poke-buggers. It’s quite convoluted, and does require at least University level Geography skills, but for now, it might be the best way we have to track down the more elusive targets on our list.

Source: Reddit

Source: Reddit

Now, the game has just released, and with its wild popularity, Niantic probably have their hands full just keeping the servers working (especially with people constantly fluking the GPS system to appear in place they’re not). They’ve undoubtedly received a lot of feedback that will be getting sifted through now right now in order to improve the game and make it more enjoyable for everyone playing.

My own suggestion would be to add a simple, accurate distance to those pawprints. A directional indicator would be handy – maybe an item on the store could be introduced to show the direction of Pokemon from your location, in tandem with the “Nearby” indicator. Niantic may not want to do that, as it could reduce the challenge of the game significantly.

At the very minimum however, if we could just figure out how far away we are from something, we can much more easily search for it. This would help reduce the marathon inducing hunting parties down to merely being annoyed while finding a Pokemon hiding nearby.

That’s my suggestion, for what it’s worth. As to what Niantic decide to actually do, we’ll probably find out soon enough. They plan to introduce a bi-weekly update schedule, so give it another couple weeks, and we’ll see what kind of tweaks and fixes they’ll have in store.