‘Pokémon Go’ Devs Say Shadowban Anti-Cheat Policy Is About Integrity, May Be Temporary

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Pokémon Go cheaters are being hit with Shadowbans for using bots, and Niantic has officially responded to backlash against the procedure in a series of emails. Below, we’ve posted the studio’s official statement as transcribed on The Silph Road subreddit.

“We’re committed to maintaining the state of Pokémon Go and our community of Trainers. People who violate the Pokémon GO Terms of Service (including by using third party software and other cheats) may have their gameplay affected and may not be able to see all the Pokémon around them. While we cannot discuss the systems implemented, we can confirm that we are constantly refining new ways to ensure the integrity of the game in order to keep it fun and fair for all Trainers.

As long as you’re abiding by the Pokémon Go Terms of Service and the Pokémon Go Trainer guidelines, there should not be any reason for concern.

Niantic Support”

While the response is quite heavy in its PR speak, there are a few things we can take from it. The most apparent message is that Niantic feels it’s justified in its policy because Shadowbans help strengthen “the integrity of the game.” We also see signs that the game’s cheat discovery mechanism is constantly being iterated and refined for greater effectiveness. For those who feel they’ve been hit with a false Shadowban, this will likely be read as good news. For cheaters hoping to find their way around the ban, continued adjustment could be cause for concern.

Now that the bans have been doled out and Niantic has stood by its methods, one big question remains: are Shadowbans permanent, or do they have length tiers tied to the severity of the offense? Because the punishment is so new, it’s hard to say for sure.  Some feel the final paragraph in the email about lawful players being untouched is a possible hint towards eventual removal, but we’re not so sure. It could just be reiterating the fact that those who’ve never cheated before won’t be hit with a ban.

Pokémon Go has been ravaged by cheaters since the app first released last June, and this Shadowban is Niantic’s most aggressive attempt to stop it. The punishment impacts those who use third-party apps that offer an advantage in the game. These include bots, IV checkers and scanners. While GPS spoofing remains untouched for now, it’s a likely target for the future.

Those who’ve been hit by a Shadowban are stifled from progress in a few different ways. Most critically, locations that otherwise might contain a rare Pokémon are flooded by commons instead. It’s also impossible to buy items from the shop that help make the catching process easier. In few words, the ban fundamentally breaks everything that makes Pokémon Go so fun to play.

While lots of cheaters may feel they’ve been unjustly accused, the anti-cheat algorithm seems to cast a pretty wide net. Even if you’ve only briefly used an IV checker, for example, that app may have inadvertently contributed the data on your device to a scanning application. As such, the system gets tripped and you’re in trouble. While mistakes are possible, we encourage all Shadowban victims to think deeply about their activity within the game.

Pokémon Go is available now on Android and iOS.

Have you been hit by a Shadowban? Do you think it’s an effective anti-cheat method? Tell us in the comments section!

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