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Pokémon Go developer battling to overturn false ban wave

Surf.

Pokémon Go developer Niantic is battling to overturn a wave of false account bans.

The game's anti-cheat system appears to have incorrectly flagged numerous player accounts for using "third-party applications" - AKA cheating software.

Last night, after Eurogamer flagged the bans to Niantic, the developer acknowledged the problem and said it would now work to restore any affected player accounts.

Still, there's a feeling of concern in the Pokémon Go community regarding how long it has taken to get the issue identified. Plenty of player reports had been filed with the game's customer support to no avail. And this is an issue which has now occurred several times in the past.

Dozens of Pokémon Go players got in contact with Eurogamer to report the problems, while fans attempted to gain visibility by posting large threads on the popular TheSilphRoad reddit.

Prominent Pokémon Go Youtuber spieletrend was also among those affected. The Vienna-based player is one of the game's most popular German-speaking content creators, and has previously partnered with Niantic for events such as Go Fest.

Those affected received the game's standard seven-day soft ban warning, then the 30-day account ban which temporarily locks your account. A third infraction then removes access for good.

In-game warnings issued in Pokémon Go.

While player accounts will hopefully now be restored, there's no word on recompense for players who have been locked out of their accounts - including over the recent Go Fest event.

"We're working on reverting strikes for some Trainers who incorrectly received punishments on their accounts," a Niantic spokesperson told Eurogamer. "This will be done for Trainers automatically, whether or not they have contacted us. We apologise for the error."

Last June, "thousands" of Pokémon Go accounts appeared to have been incorrectly flagged by the game's anti-cheat system. A similar issue occured again in April this year, when some players were hit by repeated seven-day bans.

Niantic faces a constant battle to keep Pokémon Go cheaters out of the game and enforce its rules as far as possible. Tools to "spoof" your phone's location can be used to teleport your player character and collect rare Pokémon from all over the world, with large online groups that support this. Engaging with these if you want to keep your account is not a clever idea.

Spoofing is also used in ways which directly impact other players, such as to continually hold a Pokémon gym, and in Ingress, whose gameplay revolves around visiting and controlling networks of physical locations, this is especially an issue.

In February this year, Niantic said it had banned more than a million Pokémon Go cheats in 2020, and that "more than 90 percent of users" cleaned up their act after a first warning.

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Tom Phillips avatar

Tom Phillips

Deputy Editor

Tom is Eurogamer's deputy editor. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon.

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