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Video Games

Pokemon Go tracking finally goes live and actually works

Niantic Labs just switched on a tracking system for Pokemon Go -- just in time for a Thanksgiving weekend bonus XP event and the new arrival of Ditto!

One of the biggest reasons a lot of people quit playing Pokemon Go was its tracking system. It was so bad that a host of third party trackers gained a lot of popularity, but Niantic Labs -- makers of Pokemon Go -- kept shutting down the trackers, leaving dedicated hunters crying for help. Or quitting the game in droves.

But today a real tracking system has gone live and it actually works. Add a Thanksgiving event that is offering double experience points and stardust, and the appearance of a new Pokemon, and there's a good chance a lot of people will be playing the game this weekend.

Now when you check the list of nearby Pokemon you see the Pokestop photo that is closest to each of the Pokemon on the list. Tap a Pokemon and then the footprints to be shown exactly where the Pokestop is and have it tracked on the map as you make your way toward it.

Pokemon Go tracking

Your nearby list will now show Pokestop images beside the Pokemon to help you track them down.

Seamus Byrne/CNET

This works brilliantly in high density areas, like in cities. Yesterday walking through Sydney I spotted a Lickitung as the closest Pokemon on the list, but walked for blocks before it finally disappeared. With no indicator to follow it, there was no way to know where to walk.

Today a Venusaur appeared on my nearby list and I could see where to find it -- a Pokestop two blocks from the CNET office in Sydney. I hustled my way to the stop a few minutes walk away and within seconds the Venusaur appeared. Bingo!

As for the arrival of Ditto, it turns out some of our most boring Pokemon could now turn out to be a little more interesting. Pidgeys and Rattatas may actually be a Ditto in disguise!

There's an obvious problem for this tracking system. Outside areas with high density Pokestop action, you're still stuck wandering aimlessly hoping for the best. The footstep icons are back, so maybe that will do more than just show the nearest Pokestop when you're in more open areas? It's the best you can hope for for now.

Some are reporting that the new Pokestop tracking isn't showing up in some areas, so it may be limited to these high density cities for now. For those seeing it, the thrill of the hunt -- and some bonus XP for Thanksgiving -- might be just what you needed to get back out there to catch 'em all.

UPDATED 12.45PM AEST: To correctly flag exactly how individual tracking works and to mention the arrival of Ditto.