“Pokémon Go” cheaters and hackers were hit with ban penalties last week, and the fair-play measure seems to have partially backfired. Reports are flooding in of so-called legitimate players being barred from the app.
Evidence of the trend first surfaced on a “Pokémon Go” Reddit thread where one player reported being banned from access after traveling to several major cities across the United States in a short timespan. The user in question had a level-26 account and had recently posted a high-CP Pokémon at a nearby gym.
As it so happens, this instance is apparently far from the only one. The initial post has since swelled to a conversation with more than 200 individual comments and dozens of similar cases. Members of the military, traveling salesmen and those on vacation have all met a similar fate.
The possible reason for this glitch is that any sort of continuous travel could easily be misconstrued by the anti-cheat algorithm as a GPS spoof. Using third-party software like the now-defunct Necrobot, it was once possible to trick the app into believing that actual travel had taken place. Before such hacks were banned, it wasn’t uncommon for trainers to artificially teleport to densely-populated areas like New York City. As a result, they leveled up quickly and caught monsters that weren’t native to their area.
While slightly less substantiated, some users have also suggested that “Pokémon Go’s” ban algorithm is tied to suspicious activity reports from individual players. One such case that’s garnered lots of attention over the past few days happened when one user told his friends to report his legitimate account to deliberately test the system. Just hours after the false negative flags had been dispatched, the account was supposedly taken offline.
Should this second scenario be accurate, it opens the door for griefers to simply report players they don’t like. It can also have a negative impact on gyms as well. Those that guard their gyms with high-level Pokémon can potentially become the target of unfair bans from players that want to take the gym for themselves.
While it’s certainly possible that some of these stories might be told by hackers trying to cover up their unfair deeds, there are too many of them to ignore the phenomenon. It’s also worth noting that the development team at Niantic has a system in place to appeal bans likely under assumption that situations like these might arise. So far, most of these customer service requests have not prompted a direct response or removal of the ban.
“Pokemon Go” is available now on Android or iOS.
Are you the victim of an unfair “Pokémon Go” ban? Have you used cheats or hacks? Tell us in the comments section!