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Uh oh: Pokemon GO locks after capturing a Pokemon!

Pokemon go bugsWe probably don’t have to tell you what Pokemon GO is all about right? It’s the biggest thing on the planet right now… it literally broke the Internet! Kim Kardashian eat your heart out: you’re been officially dethroned by a bunch of little colorful critters.

But, not all is perfect in this world we live in. Especially after you’ve discovered that sometimes, Pokemon GO locks after capturing a Pokemon. Uh oh.

By the way, have you seen our tips on how to lose weight playing Pokemon GO and what the best way to play Pokemon GO in a mall is?

Seems Niantic didn’t completely figure their programming and dynamics out before the launch, and some stray bug was left over. The result? You go to get your favorite Pokemon, you aim, you fire, you score… a direct hit right on top of the noggin’. The pokeball opens, in goes the critter… and then… nothing.

The pokeball falls to the ground, and Pokemon GO locks after capturing a Pokemon. It just makes you wanna throw your phone across the street, room, whatever.

Pokemon GO locks after capturing a Pokemon, is this really happening?

Yeah, unfortunately it is. Problem description is pretty clear and consistent, all over the world. You catch the Pokemon and get the capture animation screen, were you typically see whether it stays in the ball or it gets out. The ball falls to the ground, and then, nothing. No audible boing, and the little red light on the front doesn’t light. It just stays grey.

Your phone might zoom into the ball, or it might just stay without doing the zoom thing. In the back, the leaves keep rustling, the wind keeps going, and, that’s about it. You’re left stuck, looking at a dead pokeball.

Pokemon GO locks after capturing a Pokemon

Happens to everyone, don’t get scared. You don’t have the only incompatible phone in the world, there’s nothing wrong with your operating system, you didn’t get a malware version of the game, and chinese hackers aren’t trying to get you. This is a known issue.

Why does this even happen?

Well, that’s kind of a long explanation. So sit down if you have a few minutes.

The first thing you need to know is that Pokemon GO requires a lot of information exchange. It’s kind of like Waze, the information comes into your phone, real time, from Niantic’s servers. Those servers are what keep the game going, and everyone catching Pokemon.

As you’ve probably heard, Niantic had a bit of trouble with their Pokemon GO launch. They were supposed to go worldwide on launch day, but so many people wanted to play, that the servers literally broke. Everything started to crash and burn, so Niantic pulled the game from most of the world except a few select countries.

The rest of us, were left with the option of downloading the game from an outside source if we wanted to play, or just not play at all.

During this past week and a half, they’ve been sorting out their server problems. Little by little more computing power is added, and more countries are getting access to Pokemon GO, last I read the count was at 34, with the latest pokeneighbors being Spain and a whole bunch of Scandinavian countries.

Now, that initial failure and overload gave us a peek at just how important communication is with this game. If you’re one of those technically curious, you probably noticed that when communication gets wonky, things start to go wrong. Pokemon don’t show up, the pokestops don’t work right, and if something goes really wrong, you get Niantic’s own version of the windows blue screen.

Pokemon GO Error screen

So far, everything points to communications problems being the cause for the notorious bug where Pokemon GO locks after capturing a Pokemon. Niantic hasn’t said anything yet, but a whole bunch of people at reddit have narrowed down the cause on their own. When you capture a Pokemon, the game starts to transfer information to the main servers: what you captured, where, how many pokeballs you threw, all that stuff. And in the meanwhile it displays the animation screen where the ball falls, lights up, and starts to shake.

But when something goes wrong, and communication doesn’t work, the game doesn’t know what to do. Seems it can’t tell whether it should shake the ball, release the Pokemon, or what. So it just stays there, waiting for instructions from the servers. And since those instructions never come, the animation just sticks and Pokemon GO locks after capturing a Pokemon.

Unfortunately Niantic didn’t build any emergency exits out of this one. Really Niantic? Any 16 year old knows to build critical error traps and handlers into their software, and you just… forgot this one?

So the only thing left to do is reboot. You bring up the task manager, swipe the app into oblivion, and restart.

What can be done to prevent this bug?

Well, like we said, there’s no official word from Niantic on this one yet. But since everything points to a communication problem being the cause, there’s a few things you might want to do to ensure a better Pokemon GO experience:

  • Make sure your data connection is good. If you’ve got a choice between playing on your cell phone carrier’s data network, or playing on a good strong WiFi link, go WiFi. You’ll not only save data charges, but you’ll also keep your Pokemon GO app happily talking to the servers.
  • Make sure your OS, patches and apps are up to date. A lot of people roll their eyes when they see the little “System upgrade ready” message in their task bar, and just ignore it. Sure, by today’s standards those system upgrades are a bore, but they’re necessary. One of those upgrades and patches just might contain code that makes Pokemon GO run smoother. So don’t skip on them. If you’re got pending system upgrades or app updates, install them.
  • Reload the app after switching data connections. One of those things that sometimes helps. We’ve noticed Pokemon GO doesn’t always understand data network switching, and when you go from WiFi to mobile data, it can sometimes take a long time for Pokemon GO to realize the switch. So if you’re leaving the office and going out, or viceversa, best to not start up Pokemon until you’re on the new network.
  • Close other apps that might interfere. Apps are supposed to play nice with each other, but we know from experience Pokemon GO isn’t always a nice app. So if you’re using any other apps that are heavy on the GPS or data transfer, best to swipe them out on the task manager before loading Pokemon GO. Make sure Pokemon GO has exclusive access to these resources.
  • Turn off LTE. Strange thing to do, but some people have reported it helps. If your carrier offers 3G and LTE data networks, try switching to 3G and see if it helps.

But don’t worry, all is not lost

This bug is extremely annoying, true. Niantic needs to fix it and fix it yesterday, true. This bug is gonna throw a whole bunch of new Pokemon players off the game and back to whatever they did before… true.

But, all is not lost. At least in many cases, you don’t lose the Pokemon you captured!

The capture still seems to get recorded, even if you don’t get the full capture animation. At least in our case, the Pokemon is safe and sound, even if we did close and restart everything. And not just in our case: most Pokemon players report the same thing, they have to restart but don’t lose the Pokemon.

To check if you managed to keep it, use your journal. In the bottom left corner of your screen you’ll see your avatar and player name. Touch it. You’ll get a profile screen that shows your level and information about you. And there, you’ll find a button that says “journal”. Tap the journal button, wait a few seconds for the information to load, and give it a read:

Screenshot_20160716-110813

Your pokemon will probably be first on the list, which means the capture went through, and you’re all set to keep playing!

In the meantime, stay safe while hunting, and keep capturing. Let us know how your deck is turning out!

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