Pokémon GO players may have noticed a change in their game’s overworld map. This news is due to developer Niantic switching from Google Maps to OpenStreetMap (OSM.).
OSM is an open source, editable mapping project, which means it may be changed by any player encountering map-related issues. Furthermore, changes in Google Maps had to wait until the map refreshed before they were noticeable, yet edits in OSM are immediate.
While this news seems entirely beneficial at first, it does come with its issues. Areas unmapped by an OSM user may result in blank maps, and while that’s editable, it may be a lot to ask of some Pokémon GO players. It is worth noting, however, that this change should not affect PokeStops and Gyms because they are tied to real-world coordinates.
This change may also indicate a break with Google. The company had initially helped fund the creation of Pokémon GO, but the state of the relationship between Google and Niantic remains unknown. It is possible that Niantic’s financial success could have strained this relationship. Over the past week, Niantic has raised $200 million in funding for future projects.
It is also noteworthy that this was a rather sudden change, starting first in Europe before reaching America last night. It is unclear, however, if the shift to OSM was as swift as its implementation.
Pokémon GO remains a financial success, and any issues that emerged as the map change occurred may expect a resolution soon. With Harry Potter: Wizards Unite also on the horizon, it remains unclear whether that game will use Google Maps or OSM, although the latter seems more likely now. Hopefully, players may hear from Niantic soon regarding this change.
While player reception to the shift from Google Maps to OSM is mixed, players should be thankful it is not causing turmoil like the recent iOS bug. It also seems likely that Pokémon GO players may have to deal with this change, regardless of personal opinion.