It seems Nintendo and The Pokémon Company missed out on a great marketing opportunity in its Pokémon GO Plus announcement on Sep. 9 by omitting, and even misrepresenting, information on the new peripheral’s ability to track distance.
The Pokémon GO Plus is a wearable Bluetooth low energy device compatible with the popular Pokémon GO app for iOS and Android. Originally set to be released at the end of July, it has seen continuous delay until now, with an official release date of Sep. 16.
Nintendo’s official website reports “Pokémon GO Plus can also be used while Pokémon GO is running in the background on smartphones**.” But the fine print reads: “**Pokémon GO does not track distance walked when running in the background.”
On Sep. 14, some players who received the Pokémon GO Plus early, came to some surprising findings and after testing it. Pokémon GO Plus does, in fact, track distance with the app running in the background, something the app is incapable of doing on its own. This information was confirmed by The Silph Road, a grassroots network of Pokémon GO trainers known for data mining the app, on its subreddit.
Below is an image from The Silph Road confirming details on the Pokémon GO Plus.
The official Pokémon GO Plus info page exclaims, “GET GOING, GET ALERTS, GET POKÉMON!” and merely advertises the device’s capability to interact with PokeStops and catch Pokémon. It makes no mention of the sought after feature of distance tracking. It has been this way for months, and was not updated when The Pokémon Company announced the official release date.
Ever since Pokémon GO’s release in July, players have asked if the Pokémon GO Plus would track distance, and for good reason. To hatch eggs, some of which require 10 kilometers of travel, and now to generate candy by walking a Buddy Pokémon, the app must be able to track how far a player has walked. However, Pokémon GO on its own is only capable of doing this if it’s actively running on the phone’s screen. In other words, say goodbye to your battery life if you want to make any real progress. This is where many hoped the Pokémon GO Plus would come in. As a standalone, supposed pedometer, steps could be accurately tracked without the app draining battery. But until The Silph Road’s confirmation, this information has been missing.
Luckily for The Pokémon Company and Nintendo, the Pokémon GO Plus has been sold out since July, so this faux pas is probably unlikely to affect sales for now.
The $35 Pokémon GO Plus also allows players to catch Pokémon and collect items with the press of a button. Good luck finding it available now for that price.