Pokémon Go cheaters will now be permanently banned from playing the popular game, according to updated wording in the game’s terms of service. Niantic Labs, the game’s developer, writes that accounts can be banned for cheating, including by “falsifying your location, using emulators, modified or unofficial software and/or accessing Pokémon GO clients or backends in an unauthorized manner including through the use of third-party software.”
These changes, including a form for users to appeal their permanent ban, were first spotted by The Verge following a posting on Niantic Labs’ website.
It’s unclear how the company is detecting users who are cheating through the use of third-party software or other means, which could be why it’s allowing users to appeal the bans, in case of false positives.
However, the move comes at a time when Niantic has been steadily cracking down on services that give players unfair advantages. For example, earlier this month, the company went after third-party tracking services that would help flag where Pokémon were popping up in the wild – something that made finding them much easier than using the game’s internal tracking system.
Along with the new lifetime bans for cheating players and the shut down of tracking services, Niantic is also now targeting “farming” services, reports The Guardian. These bot services allow players to automate gameplay, like collecting items, catching Pokémon and hatching eggs. One such service, Necrobot, has already closed up shop, citing the legal action directed toward other developers in the space. (It had not yet received a letter, however, it said).
The problem with the ongoing cheating is that it has allowed for two very different classes of users to exist – regular players who are just having fun collecting monsters and trying to battle in gyms, and those whose Pokémon and user accounts are so powerful, that they are able to take over the gyms (where players battle), and then never be beaten.
Niantic is not a fan of such behavior, saying on its site:
Our goal is to provide a fair, fun and legitimate game experience for everyone. We will continue to work with all of you to improve the quality of the gameplay, including ongoing optimization and fine tuning of our anti-cheat system.
It promises also to fine tune its anti-cheat system going forward.
The game, of course, is one of the most viral of all time, and massively profitable – it crossed $200 million in global revenue a month after its launch, for example. However, the game’s staying power could be challenged if it doesn’t work out the kinks with its system in short order. That not only includes removing the bots and cheaters from the wider community, but also the bugs from its app itself, and keeping its servers stabilized.