Pokemon Go Decides To Troll Cheaters Instead Of Banning Them

from the trollkemon dept

Remember when Pokemon Go was the thing? What once was a legitimate craze has certainly died down from that level, but it's not as though the augmented reality game has simply gone away into oblivion. It still has a dedicated following pumping significant dollars into it. And, as with anything in the gaming space that has reached this level of popularity, the game has its fair share of cheaters looking to automate the game for better rewards. Much like the game's Pokemon evolve as a matter of its ethos, so too is the strategy that those behind the app are employing to combat those trying to cheat the game's system.

In the midst of the craze last summer, the developer, Niantic, had instituted a mass ban of players using automated systems and geo-spoofing techniques to crawl the game's landscape in search of critters to collect. The impetus for doing this is pretty clear: doing this sort of thing allowed players to route around the challenge of the game entirely and, therefore, avoid the reasons for making in-game purchases. But more recently, Niantic appears to be trying to have some fun at the expense of the cheaters instead of banning them.

As detailed by Pokémon Go enthusiast subreddit The Silph Road, a recent Pokémon Go update targets players who use bots to trawl the globe for valuable Pokémon. In case you forgot how Pokémon Go works, it’s an artificial reality game that forces players to move around in the actual real physical world to find and capture Pokémon. People who automate that process with a bot suck the fun out of the game. As of last week, many of those lazybones found popular spawning spots populated not by high-value monsters, but by boring Pidgeys and such. In practice, it’s like hunting for lions and finding nothing but squirrels.

When effective, this sort of tactic works on multiple levels. First off, hey, this is legitimately funny! Second, it also allows Niantic to avoid the appearance of escalation of the conflict between app and cheater. Cheaters want to work around the system through automation to find rare Pokemon? Well, the response is to simply drown them in common critters instead of banning them outright. It feels far more tit for tat than an outright ban.

Which brings us to the third way this is effective: Niantic doesn't come off as the bad guy here. There's no real PR hit to take here. Nobody likes cheaters in the system, but heavy-handed bans can cause everyone's eyes to narrow even when there isn't collateral damage, which there almost always is. Even the media coverage of this tactic looks at it as good fun.

And though yes, it’s mostly just silly fun that Niantic has started feeding its Pokémon Go gluttons a strict sawdust diet, it’s also a reminder that while the game has faded from its initial frenzy, it’s still a very big business.

Regardless, it's always nice to see game makers try to get more creative to combat cheating than simply whipping out the ban-hammer.

Filed Under: cheaters, pokemon go, trolling
Companies: niantic

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  1. identicon
    Chuck, 5 Jun 2017 @ 1:46pm


    Don't laugh.

    In Pokemon Red, I first learned of Pidgeot's existence because Blue kicked my ever-loving ass with his. My Venusaur was doing fine, wiped 4/6 of his team, then barely survived through Charizard.

    And out comes f**king Pidgeot.

    One of only 2 times I've ever, EVER lost a Pokemon battle.

    (It was really my fault though. I made the mistake of only leveling 3 Pokemon total, and had nothing good against Flying OR Fire types. NEVER AGAIN!)

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