Niantic Labs is continuing its crackdown against cheaters on Pokémon GO with so-called shadowbans.
While the developer has not officially confirmed the new anti-cheating measure, Pokémon GO communities have reported that shadowbans are indeed happening. This should serve as a warning to Pokémon GO players who are not playing by the rules.
Shadowbans In ‘Pokémon GO’
There are currently several third-party applications for Pokémon GO that provide players with information on the Pokémon that appear in specific areas. Niantic Labs considers the usage of these apps as cheating, but there are many hardcore gamers who use the mapping apps to optimize how they play Pokémon GO.
According to various reports, Niantic Labs has issued warnings to users of third-party Pokémon GO apps, stating that using such software is in violation of the game’s Terms of Service. The continued usage of the third-party apps could lead to the loss of the account, with users encouraged to stop using them.
The shadowban, however, is not just a simple warning. Players who have had their accounts flagged due to using unofficial trackers will not know that they have been placed under a shadowban, but they will soon notice that all they see while hunting for Pokémon are common ones such as Rattata and Pidgey.
This is because, under the shadowban, Niantic Labs prevents players from seeing rare Pokémon spawn on their in-game map. This has been confirmed by comparing the Pokémon that appear under the Nearby and Sightings feature for the game between flagged accounts and non-flagged accounts.
Shadowbans could signal the start of a machine learning approach for Niantic Labs in the detection of third-party software, which will make it very complicated for cheaters to work around the measure.
Will This Finally Stop Cheating In ‘Pokémon GO’?
Looking through the comments on different online forums regarding the matter, there are some players who claim that they have been falsely tagged as cheaters, while some players who admitted to using trackers say that they have not yet been shadowbanned. There are also some players who think that using third-party apps should not be considered as cheating, as it helps players who live in rural areas where Pokémon spawns do not happen often, as well as those who are busy with many other things in their lives.
In August last year, Niantic Labs started handing out permanent bans to Pokémon GO cheaters in an effort to maintain the game’s integrity and to prevent legitimate players from losing interest. While Niantic Labs eventually decided to reverse some of the bans, it continued its aggressive charge against cheating in Pokémon GO.
No matter what the collective stance of players are on using third-party software, the fact remains that players who use them have an unfair advantage over other players who do not. Niantic Labs has maintained that the usage of trackers is not good for the game, and it has now launched shadowbans to address what it sees as a major problem for Pokémon GO.
With Niantic Labs claiming that Pokémon GO will have a legendary summer, the developer could be looking to weed out cheaters before the expected influx of new and returning players.