Recent permanent ban wave targeting spoofers - Are Sponsors twisting Niantic's arm?

news
speculation
spoofing

#1

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.

Parting words
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!


#2

Well that does make alot of sense. 50 cents is crazy, even if someone sits at McDonalds itself. So if they have to pay for spoofers spinning stops and they actually arent there…

Whatever the reason, Niantic dealing with spoofers is a good thing in my book.


#3

This is very well written, and is plausible but is purely circumstancial. The most likely (and accepted by spoofers) reason is fairly simple: Niantic finally figured out how to detect spoofing. It’s not known how this is done, and is possibly even in violation of Apple’s privacy policy.


#4

Now Im just gonna pray they wont release another regional (or give us the ugly pink Shellos)


#5

I don’t spoof. Probably because I don’t know how or care to learn how. I enjoy playing the game as it was meant to be played. They don’t even affect me because of how I play. I bet Niantic gets more money out of spoofers than they do me, so no sense complaining for no reason.


#6

Something I don’t think a lot of players realize that these types of issues have been prevalent in all the core games as well. The issue in the core games is people who “gen in” Pokémon. This means creating hacked Pokémon (which appear completely legitimate) in order to save time breeding and hunting for Pokémon. The Pokémon Company is strongly against this, and using an illegitimate Pokémon will get you banned from tournaments. However many people do this just to play with friends, without harming anyone. I’m personally against all forms of cheating, but I am more willing to accept those who don’t impact others. In Pokémon go terms, the people who spoof but don’t attack gyms and, eventually, don’t trade or battle.


#7

My thoughts exactly, but i went onto multiple spoofer discords and found something out about all of this. The latest ban wave is truly a BAN wave. All affected accounts are disabled, and cannot be logged into for up to 4 months. This has happened to botted accounts as well, so it truly seems like Niantic are removing trackers, botters and spoofers all in one go. Depending on who you are it’s the best news or the worst mews


#8

I dont mind single player cheats. Have at it. As long as you dont bother anyone/anything, i dont care.


#9

They cant detect non-legit Pokemon at tournaments, only illegal


#10

Interesting thoughts, I don’t know why it’s happening now, but I like it. I really don’t care about completely banning spoofers…if niantic just banned them from gyms I would be happy. Let them collect all the 100s they want, but they’re not effecting my game play if they aren’t in gyms.

Overall, good riddance, play the game the way it’s intended or don’t play at all.

The only legit players this will effect negatively are the ones that count on spoofers for raids, but at least now they have access to legendaries through quests


#11

This won’t help us get the maps back, since the map-system works a bit like spoofers… It’s bittersweet.


#12

If they have to take away maps now and give us in game map of raids happening around us in a larger area am fine with the ban on them. They knew what they were doing was wrong. While this theory may be right I think its just niantics way of finally catching up on a lot of the spoofing apps.Just like other games it takes companies (Blizzard) some time to recognize cheating programs and identify accounts. Yes they do make decent money from sponsors a few millions but thats nothing to the ingames purchases total over 1.5 billion.


#13

Good. I hope they never come back. But Niantic should make a raid map though. It only makes sense.


#14

The speculation is mind-blowing. The article thoroughly explains Niantic’s intention to eradicate 3rd party apps and spoofers.
Just to supplement 1 point: Niantic has been planning for the ban waves over these fews months started from implementing the measure of looking into your device’s data. Even though the recent ban waves are seemingly pushed all in a sudden, but developing the anti-spoofing actually took up a lot of time.
As said by Niantic, the first year of Pokemon GO was the year of building infrastructure which directly pointed at dealing with spoofers. If that’s true, we can imagine that how much effort have Niantic put into building these measures. Hence, one of the reasons why Niantic crack down on multiple accounts, iv checkers/scanners and maps are maintaining cooperationship. On the other hand, Niantic has been listening to the Pokemon GO community about the matter of spoofing & multiple accounts.
This could be expected by Niantic, and they consider shadow ban as a alarming measure to notify spoofers about this permanent ban wave.
(Welcome to the GO Hub Forum, Boon)


#15

Would you guys say that Niantic percieves Europe as “west” or “east”?


#16

Eradicating spoofers might be a necessity for the upcoming trade system. But, I don’t think the reason would be that spoofers have access to all kinds of regionals and high IV mons.

People who played Ingress with others, might be aware that trading is actually already possible in Ingress. It’s a fairly insecure method, which basically involves dropping the stuff you want to trade on the ground, for an other player to pick up. It wouldn’t amaze me if Niantic planned to use a similar insecure method for Pokémon Go.

Now, what could happen when you decided to transfer that Kyogre to some friend who was in hospital during the Kyogre month? Exactly: some spoofer/botter could get an alert about a spawned Kyogre somewhere, swoop in in a matter of miliseconds (and you thought they wouldn’t automate such a simple yet lucrative process?), and grab it. Drama ensues, ofcourse.

Why do I think Niantic would implement trading in such an insecure manner? Quite simple: the receiving end of the trade will probably have to CATCH the Pokémon after it’s dropped. I’m assuming the receiver would be allowed to use all types of balls and, ofcourse, berries. On the bright side, the player catching the “trade” might also get some candies for the catch. But, there’d actually also be a chance for the Pokémon to escape. Or, for another player to catch it first. A legit other player catching it wouldn’t be a bad thing. Great mechanic for events and parties. Just as long as spoofers don’t swoop in, that would ruin the whole system.

And yes, I see those cogwheels turning in your head: This could be used as a slightly risky candy-generator. I’d asume the “owner” would get an auto-catch the moment he or she touches the pokebal in the throw-screen. But, two friends could catch-and-release some Pokémons back and forth, though they would risk the Pokémon fleeing. Knowing Niantic, it’s even very probable that Pokémons would get some hidden catch-and-release modifier, making the chance for a Pokémon to break out and flee higher with every catch.


#17

That sounds pretty cool, hopefully catching Azurill and Wynaut wont be too difficult


#18

While I would agree with the theory in general there is a couple more things that people are not pointing out about Niantics actions over the past 6 months. In November of 2017 Niantic received additional backing from Investors (https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/nianticlabs-google#section-funding-rounds) with the largest backer being Spark Capital, which they were pursuing for a long time. The promise was that they would improve their public relations with the player base.

With the acquistion of Evertoon (https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/evertoon) not only did Niantic get a studio to help with player avatars but a logistical team to deal with their social media failings. They hired a larger support staff in December of 2017 and began sorting through support tickets. Over the past few months they have been identifying player complaints and priotizing them to improve customer relations. While yes some sponsors heard about false numbers for GPS Spoofing, the increased backing of investors and improved customer support has allowed Niantic to identify problems faster and that is another reason why Bots, Maps, and Spoofers have been targeted lately.


#19

When numbers don’t add up, numbers start getting Tyranitar’s Crunch.


#20

I can’t do raids, since I have to drive to check if they’re up and w/o any map, the game becomes a job and extra expense. Increase in the raid map radius would not harm the game. Ones that lost on this are legit players too.