Disclaimer: Except for The news section, this article contains my own personal speculations, yet would clearly explain Niantic’s recent ban waves.
Thanks to an unknown Facebook group for bringing this conspirancy theory (?) into the world, and to ThomasParrain for bringing it to my attention.
The news: another ban wave targeting spoofers
Let me start with the news piece, as some of you might only have interest for that portion. In the past 10 hours, Discord servers dedicated for spoofing (eww, right?), and spoofers everywhere are reporting another massive ban wave.
However, unlike the previous ban waves, which were mostly shadow bans targeting multi accounts, and [in]directly affecting tracker and scanner services around the world (more information here), this recent wave seems to be directly targeting spoofers with permanent bans, to most players’ delight.
Although I welcome this news, this raises some questions, for example, why now and not when spoofing actually became a problem? Well, let’s speculate!
How do sponsors (e.g. Sprint, McDonald’s, etc.) work in Pokémon GO?
First and foremost, to make my assumptions clear, one needs to understand how Niantic allows Sponsors in Pokémon GO. In some countries, you’ve seen plenty of sponsored gyms/Pokéstops like Spring Stores, McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc., while in others like our poor, frozen Canadians have seen none (while tears of the writer fall onto the keyboard). These sponsors are Niantic’s principal source of income, this is important to keep in mind.
Once it was clear to Niantic that companies had a motive to invest in the game, they grabbed the opportunity. I mean, who wouldn’t have? In order to make money out of these sponsors, Niantic is charging sponsors per visit. In short, every unique visit by a trainer to a sponsored gym or Pokéstop translates into the sponsor owing money to Niantic. Every time a trainer visits a sponsored gym/Pokéstop, that said sponsor needs to pay Niantic an amount decided upon the signature of their contract between the two of them. In the summer of 2017, when this was all brought to the light of day, it was revealed that some places, like McDonald’s, would pay from $0.15 to $0,50 per unique visit. Can you imagine how much this translates into? Millions!
What would this have to do with the recent ban waves?
First, do you remember the recent two sponsors who put an end to their partnership with Niantic? Globe Telecom, for example? Would it be possible that these break-ups happened because of a financial disagreement?
Let’s be honest, multi accounts and spoofers have [unfortunately] been a part of this game for a while now, whether we like it or not (emphasis on the not), and it’s not as if Niantic really did anything to fix this issue before, except for a few red screen shadow bans. Well, these rebels breaking the ToS (Terms of Services) certainly do not help sponsors benefit from their deal with Niantic, and sponsors might have gotten tired of it.
In short, it would appear that some sponsors may have noticed a discrepancy between the amount reported by Niantic, and the actual number of physical unique visits that they would notice on site; which would make sense considering that a lot of trainers have multiple accounts and that some trainers dare spoof. Unfortunately for the sponsors, in this scenario, the multiple accounts’ and spoofers’ visits were most likely counted as unique visits by Niantic when issuing their invoices to the sponsors, while most of these visits never actually happened on site. This means that Niantic would have seemingly charged sponsors for visits that never took place based on false reports. This is upsetting, right?
If we remember that people have been reporting, with no success, spoofers since the beginning of the game, but that we have only recently started witnessing effective ban waves targeting multi accounts and spoofers, it would only make sense to assume that Niantic is putting a lot of efforts into controlling this issue if sponsors are threatening to end their contract with Niantic, or pressuring them to fix the multi account and spoofer issue once and for all so that their dues actually reflect the number of physical unique visits/foot traffic taking place at their store, restaurant, etc.
As I said, there unfortunately is no confirmation of this being the reason why Niantic finally is working relentlessly and deploying ban waves targeting multi accounts and spoofers; but this would very well explain it. A financial twist of arm forcing Niantic to finally act up on the issue.
Keep in mind, that this conspiracy theory originated from the good old mouth to ear, so there is no evidence of this being the case, but it would certainly make sense for it to be true.
What do you guys think? Am I going crazy? Is this just another conspirancy theory? Thanks for reading!