Hacking group Global++ has agreed to pay a $5 million settlement to Pokemon Go developer Niantic, Inc. The group created a hacked version of Pokemon Go, as well as hacked versions of two other Niantic games: Ingress and Harry Potter Wizards Unite. The programs, known as PokeGo++, Ingress++, and Potter++, used Niantic's code, but allowed players to perform actions that aren't available in the real games, including altering their GPS location, auto-walking, and more. As part of the settlement, these hacks will be taken offline, and Global++ will no longer sell things using Niantics's code.
The lawsuit between Niantic and Global++ began in 2019. According to the agreement (obtained by TorrentFreak), Global++'s programs used “substantial portions of Niantic’s copyrighted computer code without Niantic’s permission.” As part of the settlement, Global++ and other defendants also admitted to violating federal law, as well as copyright infringement.
According to the agreement, "all the Cheating Programs allow the Global++ Defendants and their customers to perform unauthorized actions while playing Niantic’s games, and allowed the Global++ Defendants to scrape Niantic’s valuable and proprietary map data. In other words, the Cheating Programs enable cheating."
While some fans of Niantic's games might have liked having the ability to alter their location or use auto-walking, these features unquestionably go against the spirit of the company's games. As a direct result of using these programs, players gain an unfair advantage over those that play them in a legitimate manner. Niantic also alleged that the programs hurt the perception of its products, and may have taken customers away from games like Pokemon Go, Ingress, and Harry Potter Wizards Unite.
The types of features that Global++'s programs allowed users to enjoy will never be added to Niantic's games in an official capacity, but the developer has made a number of changes to Pokemon Go since the coronavirus began. These changes were intended to make the game more accessible for those unable to spend a lot of time outside of the house. Clearly, the developer is still finding new ways to make the game more enjoyable for players. For now, fans will have to enjoy the game as Niantic intends it!
Have you ever used one of Global++'s programs? Are you surprised by the settlement? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!