It appears that Vietnamese Pokémon GO addicts are the only ones willing to ruin the national map in order to avoid a few extra steps to reach a PokéStop.
The Google Map of Vietnam has begun to transform since the launch of Pokémon GO in the country, with people using the Google Map Maker tool to create a number of fake ‘virtual’ public areas to facilitate their hunt.
In Pokémon GO, the mobile game taking the world by storm, public places such as parks, historical markers, and monuments are likely to automatically be recognized as PokéStops – locations where players can collect eggs and Poké Balls.
In an attempt to cheat the system, a number of Vietnamese players have been creating fake public places near their houses to dupe Pokémon GO into marking these areas as PokéStops, saving them the need to travel to a real PokéStop.
And it seems Vietnamese players are the only Pokémon GO users to do so.
On tech websites and forums, players of the augmented reality game from across the world seem to only share tips on requesting the game developer, Niantic, to accept their suggestions for PokéStops and Poké Gyms. No one has come up with a discussion on altering Google Maps to fool Pokémon.
However, earlier this week, Niantic announced that it will no longer accept requests for new PokéStops or Gyms. Instead, the San Francisco-based company is only open to requests to remove existing PokéStops and Gyms that might be in dangerous or sensitive areas.
PokéStops have created both advantages and disadvantages for area locations. For example, having a store marked as a PokéStop might have people flocking to one's venue, but chances are they would rather catch as many Pokémon creatures as possible instead of buying or using their services.
While the game developer wants to stop the number of PokéStops from booming, Vietnamese players just want them as close as possible.
This also goes against the spirit of Pokémon GO, which encourages people to go and move around in order to hunt the virtual creatures.
Most of the authentic PokéStops are also located at areas with cultural and educational value, such as museums and historical landmarks, so that players will have the chance to explore new things rather than simply “catching ‘em all.”
Vietnamese players seem to be alone in the quest to cheat the game developer, evidenced by the fact that requests for Pokéstop recognition, written entirely in Vietnamese, have flooded the product forum of Google Map Maker.
The unexpected influx of Vietnamese-language posts in a Google-run site has left many moderators surprised.
A man nicknamed Flash (RL), a top contributor and mentor on the forum, even wondered in one reply to such PokéStop posts why they “are seeing many Vietnamese asking for PokéStops to be added.”
“Can I ask how you were directed here to ask for such a thing?” he wrote.
“We need to find out who is incorrectly sending you here and update that information.”
Flash (RL) said in a separate post that it is useless to change information on Google Maps to have more PokéStops.
“While the [Pokémon GO] game uses Google Maps for navigation and display purposes, the PokéStops are virtual places created by the game creator, and that data is not kept on Google Maps at all but rather added on top by the game,” he wrote.
“Adding something to Google Map Maker or via Google Maps is not going to create PokéStops.”
Flash (RL) went on to explain that Niantic are using the same places already used in Ingress, another augmented reality game they develop, to create PokéStops, submitted in game by Ingress users.
“That map is very mature and they do not accept many new places anymore. Editing of Google Maps should reflect real world conditions, not virtual,” he concluded.