Over the last year, more than five million players have been punished for cheating in Niantic games such as Pokemon Go, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Ingress. The number was revealed in a new blog from the developer, which detailed some of the company's recent efforts to curtail cheating in its games. Developers throughout the video game industry have been working hard to reduce cheating, as cheat software can make the overall experience less enjoyable for all players. Niantic typically does not talk about its efforts in this regard as it can tip-off cheaters about its methods, but the company did reveal some surprising details!
While Niantic's blog states that five million cheaters were punished, it's worth noting that not all of those players were banned. Apparently, 20% were issued permanent bans; the rest were given warnings instead, and Niantic has been pleasantly surprised by the results. According to the company, more than 90% of players that were issued a warning for cheating stopped doing so immediately. The company is trying to find the right balance between punishing players for minor infractions and banning worse offenders.
Niantic closed the blog with a reminder to players not to use hacked versions of its games. Last month, Niantic won a $5 million settlement against the hacking group Global++. The group had released hacked versions of Niantic games that allowed players to perform unauthorized in-game actions, such as altering their location, or enabling auto-walking. The types of groups that are creating and profiting off of cheat software seem to be a bigger target for Niantic, as opposed to some of the more casual cheaters that have been caught using the software.
Some developers have embraced a zero-tolerance approach to cheating, but Niantic is clearly finding success giving certain players a second chance. There is no perfect solution to the problems caused by cheating, and cheaters will always look to find new ways to rig the system in their favor. Time will tell whether or not Niantic's efforts will prevent cheaters from doing just that, but hopefully the company will be able to keep its games fun and fair for all players.
What do you think of Niantic's approach to handling cheaters? Do you think it's more effective than a zero-tolerance approach? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!