On Games 1: Poké Problems

Like the rest of the world, I’ve been enjoying the magic of Pokémon GO, with its power to put a pissed-off Bulbasaur on my toilet. It’s fun, it’s addictive, it’s utterly broken.

No seriously. On top of the facts that it heats my phone like an extra 10 degrees, devours battery and data like a combo bowl of M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces, it also breaks more often than it works. As a trained professional, I’m providing this troubleshooting guide to what might be stopping all of your GO.

Problem 1– The Loading Screen:

I think eLoginFailvePlayerInfoFailryone’s aware of this problem. Pokémon GO is currently the world’s most downloaded app, and the servers are under tremendous strain. While there are plenty of complaints about how Niantic should have prepared for this level of success I honestly can’t blame them. It’s hard to prepare for what looks like unprecedented success. Trust me, humans– they want you to buy more Poké Balls. They’re working on it.

That said, the most common versions of this problem are the errors “Failed to log in,” “Failed to get player information/game data from server,” and the ever popular “just shows the load screen forever. Should I restart it? I… I think the bar moved… crap, crap, crap, my eyes are drying out, crap.”

Solution: Tapping the green “Retry” button usually works for the failed login error. It’s to the point where I’m actually relieved to see that error, since it’s basically self correcting 3/4 of the time. “Failed to get player information from the server” means it’s time to close the app and restart it… many many times. Maybe you’ll get it! Maybe the servers are down!

(On an iPhone or iPad, double-tap the home button and swipe up to close the app, return to your desktop and tap the app to relaunch it.)

Problem 2– Location Updates are Forever:


Now you’re in the game, you can see your little duder running around on a map and HOLY CRAP THAT’S MY STREET but in cartoon form, still that’s pretty cool! Why is there a white Poké Ball in the top left corner of my screen… just rolling and rolling, never moving? My wife just caught a Pokémon, I can’t see it. Everyone’s pointing and laughing, I’ll never catch ’em all, is this a nightmare? WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Solution: Oh, that’s just the game not being able to locate you via your GPS signal. And since everything in the game is based on your physical location, you can’t encounter Pokémon, Pokéstops, etc. You can now play the game, you just can’t experience any of its content.

At a guess, this problem is usually server side– you’re in the game but it doesn’t really have room for you. It could be on your hard drive, though, or on the network. So I’ve really narrowed it down to “…problem?”

Close the app and relaunch it, with the understanding that this is probably either a problem with your signal or the Niantic servers. Hope you really liked Problem 1, you’re about to see it again.



Problem 3– Touchscreen, Schmuchscreen

Suddenly, your phone buzzes– there’s a Pokémon! Some kinda little worm guy. That’s crazy funny. Okay, now I just tap him. And tap him. Crap, why can’t I… my map doesn’t move when I touch it. I can’t look at my Pokédex or anything. The touchscreen is frozen!

Solution: As far as I can tell, this either happens when your touchscreen has been latent for too long– which can mean minutes after launch, apparently– or when your phone detects a Pokémon. Which, you know, is when you’re most likely to touch your screen. The touchscreen works fine in other apps– feel free to put on some music or whatever– but not in Pokémon GO.

Probably a local problem.

Close the app again, hope you can log back on (you can’t).

Problem 4– Being On Any Network Ever

If you decide to get your Pokés on at home, odds are good you’ll be on your own wireless network. Makes sense– why pay for data when you don’t have to? It’s an exercise app, though, and you’re going to walk around outside. This is the job you’ve signed up for. Unfortunately, one of the best ways to trigger problem #2 or #3 seems to be switching networks.

Wireless networks can be a problem. I also like to use Xfinity hotspots in my travels; they experience the exact same difficulties.

Equally fun, being in the app seems to make me lose networks– or at least notice it every time the network drops me– and keep me from acquiring new networks, cellular or wireless.

Solution: Well, feel free to restart the app. Sometimes it works and when things work they’re awesome. Alternative therapies include listening to a podcast and walking back home.

Problem 5– Visiting Pokéstops

Pokemon Go Pokestop

Pokestops have worked for me 4 times. 4. The single digit. Either I get one of the above errors or the image won’t load; I spin the spinner, it says try again later. Sometimes it turns purple.

My theory is that Pokéstops require a little bit more memory loaded onto my phone than ‘Mons do. This somehow breaks reality.

I do not want to pay money for Pokéballs, man. Don’t make me do it.


Problem 6– Catching Pokemon

My favorite thing that breaks the game is the core element of the game. Most of the time the screen just freezes (return to Problem 1) but sometimes the Pokéball will just roll past the Pokémon… forever. If I lift my camera I can just watch it disappear over the horizon. On my favorite occasion, a Spearow escaped the Pokéball, flew into my camera and just stayed there, snapping at me, the Pokéball trembling behind it.


So this is the best as well as the worst. But, y’know, also the worst.

Solution: HAMMERS



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