Cheating has quickly become a major problem in Pokemon Go, thanks largely to automatic programs that allow players to quickly gain XP and level up, giving them an advantage over normal players. As local Pokemon gyms were taken over by unnaturally leveled players and their overpowered Pokemon, many players looked for Niantic Labs to quickly handle the issue before it overwhelmed the community.
Earlier this week, ComicBook.com reported that Niantic Labs was cracking down on Pokemon Go cheaters. After quietly setting up an appeal system on their website, Niantic Labs unleashed a massive wave of bans, targeting GPS spoofers, bot users, and other alleged rulebreakers. Several days after the bans were enforced, Niantic Labs finally addressed their actions with a short post on the Pokemon Go webpage.
"After reviewing many reports of in-game cheating, we have started taking action against players taking unfair advantage of and abusing Pokémon GO," Niantic wrote on their site. "Moving forward, we will continue to terminate accounts that show clear signs of cheating."
The post went on to clarify that players who were caught cheating will receive an email notifying that their account was terminated. Niantic declined to provide details on what sort of system they used to determine whether or not a player was cheating.
It should be noted that many Pokemon Go players might not even realize they were "cheating" as defined by the Pokemon Go terms of service. Some players have reported that Niantic deactivated their accounts for using online sites that allowed players to check their Pokemon IV stats, hidden stats that would otherwise be unavailable to see in the game. The Pokemon Go terms of service defines cheating to include "using modified or unofficial software, playing with multiple accounts (one account per player, please), sharing accounts, using tools or techniques to alter or falsify your location, or selling/trading accounts", all of which can result in a ban.
Niantic also pointed out that players can appeal their ban by filling out a ticket on their online Help Center. No timeline was given as to how long it would take Niantic to review a ban appeal.
The ban wave hasn't eliminated all cheating, but it certainly has cleaned up many local gyms for players. Niantic has asked players to help by reporting suspected cheaters using their webpage.