It goes without saying that cheaters ruin games for all players going through the game in the way that it was intended to be done. Just take a look at PUBG, where cheating is so rampant that last October, nearly 20,000 accounts were banned within a 24 hour time period. One can argue that the massive amount of cheating is partially responsible for the game slowly losing the battle royale war with Fortnite. Not wanting to devolve into a similar predicament, Niantic, the developer behind Pokémon Go, has just announced that they will be stepping up their efforts to combat cheaters with their new “Three-Strike Discipline Policy.”
Niantic has so far been somewhat remiss with their response towards cheaters as seen by their half-hearted attempt to prevent players using GPS spoofing apps to access the game. This time, however, it seems that they’re serious about enforcing their anti-cheating policies. The Three-Strike Discipline policy notes the following:
Strike 1: Warning
If this strike is issued, you will see a warning message within the Pokémon GO app informing you that we have detected cheating on your account.
In addition to this warning, your gameplay experience may be degraded in the following ways for the duration of the warning:
- You may not be able to encounter rare Pokémon in the wild. These Pokémon may not appear on the map or on the Nearby Pokémon tracker.
- You may be excluded from receiving new EX Raid Passes.
This strike will last for approximately 7 days. After this period, your gameplay experience will fully be restored.
Strike 2: Suspension
If your account is issued a second strike, you will temporarily lose access to your Pokémon GO account. When attempting to log into the game, you’ll be presented with a message stating that your account is suspended. You will not be able to bypass this message.
This strike will last for approximately 30 days. After that period, your account access will be restored.
Strike 3: Termination
If you receive the first and second strikes and continue to cheat, your account will be permanently banned.
It’s clear that Niantic doesn’t want to outright remove cheaters from the game, and instead believes that they can “reeducate” them through this system. Based upon their less than stellar track record so far, it’s hard to be 100% convinced that this will have the effect that Niantic hopes it will. Given that cheaters were able to find workarounds to the anti-GPS spoofing update within 20 minutes, how long will it take for them to figure out how to bypass Niantic’s current systems?
In the end, people will always try to find ways of exploiting loopholes to gain an unfair advantage. Asking Niantic to come up with a perfect system is a bit much – all players really want is to see that Niantic is truly dedicated to patching up these loopholes whenever they’re discovered. If they fail to do this, it’s only a matter of time before a competitor to Pokémon Go appears and threatens to steal some of its player base à la PUBG and Fortnite.