The shift of Pokemon GO: Is Opensteetmap better than Google Map?

“Pokémon Go” have created a phenomenon in last years, did you still remember the scenes everyone in the street in tend to catch those Pokémon and looking for “Pokestop” which is a supply station providimg virtual tools using during the game. “Pokemon Go” is a game with Augmanted Reality(AR) technology which connecting online map and GPS and combine with the Pokémon data in order to allow catch pokémon in the reality.

OSM Vandalism in Barcelona (2018),Pokémon Go Hub, all rights reserved,viewed 20 October 2018, <https://i.imgur.com/nhvG20z.jpg>

Pokémon is Copyright Gamefreak, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company 2001-2016 All images and names owned and trademarked by Nintendo, Niantic,The Pokémon Company, and Gamefreak

When the game launched in 2016, Pokemon Go used Google map as the game field of the game, however, the game switched to use Openstreetmap. The reason of this game developer decided to choose Google map originaly because this game developer- Niantic which is a company owned by Google. Although Niantic is one of Google’s sub-companies,they still got to paid a large amount of license fees to Google to utilise their services. When this game first launched in United States and Japan’s App Store, they did not find out the problem of using Google Map causing a lot of aftermath. The accuracies of the maps is one of it, according to Lankinen(2016), it compared some places on Google Map, Openstreetmap and the map in Pokémon Go, it stated that some places on Google map was missing, Openstreetmap show up more detail in that area.

The comparisons of online maps and game maps

Anita Lankinen(2017),Pokemon-Go-Screenshot-1,Spatino,viewed 20 October,<https://www.spatineo.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Pokemon-Go-Screenshot-1.png)

Anita Lankinen(2017),Google Map Screenshot,Spatino,viewed 20 October,<https://www.spatineo.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Pokemon-Go-Screenshot-1.png)

Pokémon is Copyright Gamefreak, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company 2001-2016 All images and names owned and trademarked by Nintendo, Niantic,The Pokémon Company, and Gamefreak

So, why Pokemon Go choose to use Openstreetmap now?

    Free online resources, no license fees charged
    In city, there are more people corporating and making the map, there will be more detail on the map
    Able to launch the conservative country where blocked the Google service (e.g. China, Russia etc.
  • Openstreetmap is a open source map, everyone allow to edit as an editor and contribute some parts of the map. Comparing to Google map with a big team to maintain and produce the map, Openstreetmap only rely on network users to update the maps, therefore, some places would be missing on the map. According to Google’s “Base Map Parter Programme”, Google is also welcoming people to provide their information to improve their map, however, it only limit to update the major landmark, natural features, new roads, new developments and critical structures like airport ,hospital and police station. Also, Google have a large vehicle team to work all around the world to explore the places and taking street photos, in this point, Google have a bigger advantage than Openstreetmap.
  • The other biggest reason of using openstreetmap on Pokémon Go is tend to enter the Mainland China market. China has one of the most powerful firewall in the planet for restricting the freedom of speech and limiting the foreign entrepreneurs. Waddell (2016) mentioned that Google had once exited the China market because they suffered too much cyberattacks inside the country. Few years later, they still tried to get back to the market and conformed to the government’s oppressive censorship policies because of the tremendous increase of Chinese internet users and this giant market. It showed how Google highly value the market of China and try to make money from this “gold mine”. Since the Google map service was still not available in China, the key for Niantic to enter the China market was to choose Openstreetmap as the new map in the game. People in everywhere could contribute their power and making maps in anywhere for Pokémon Go.
  • Here the summary of the pros and cons of both Openstreetmap and Google Map:
  • Google Map:
  • Pros
    • More stable and reliable sources
      With a big team to organise and maintain the maps
  • Cons
    • Applicate in apps charges license fees
      Barriers for development in conservative districts
      Only update the landmark or the critical facilities for free and cause the map not detail as openstreetmap

    Openstreetmap :

    Pros

    • People able to contribute of making maps
    • Free online resources
    • More street or road detail in the city map
    • Break the barriers

    Cons

    • Only rely on online users to. update
    • The detail of the road in countryside may not detail as Google map (not enough people to update)
    • Fake maps or information can exist

    Lastly, for the future development of Niantic and Pokémon Go, using Openstreetmap is a wise choice for both because as a companies always want to explore a bigger market and make the biggest profits. In the future, Niantic may focus on how to optimise the Openstreetmap to make it function as stable and reliable as Google map.


    Reference:

    1.Waddell, K. (2016, January 19). Why Google Quit China-and Why It’s Heading Back. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/01/why-google-quit-china-and-why-its-heading-back/424482/

    2.Lankinen, A. (2018, April 03). The mystery of Pokemon Go maps is solved and it’s not just about the street maps. Retrieved from https://www.spatineo.com/2016/07/mystery-pokemon-go-maps-solved-not-just-street-maps/

    3.OSM Vandalism in Barcelona (2018),Pokémon Go Hub, all rights reserved,viewed 20 October 2018, <https://i.imgur.com/nhvG20z.jpg&gt;

    4.Anita Lankinen(2017),Pokemon-Go-Screenshot-1,Spatino,viewed 20 October,<https://www.spatineo.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Pokemon-Go-Screenshot-1.png)

    5.Anita Lankinen(2017),Google Map Screenshot,Spatino,viewed 20 October,<https://www.spatineo.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Pokemon-Go-Screenshot-1.png)

    Pokémon is Copyright Gamefreak, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company 2001-2016 All images and names owned and trademarked by Nintendo, Niantic,The Pokémon Company, and Gamefreak

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