Pokemon GO Update PSA: Now's the time to stop (cheating)

Niantic has made Pokemon GO's hacker, spoofer, and cheater scene their primary target. If what we're to understand is entirely true, Niantic's leadership has made it a priority to take hardline measures against the otherwise relentless Pokemon GO cheater community. Not least of all because of the amount of revenue the company has generated over the months Pokemon GO has been active, Niantic is now in a position to dismiss any potential cash they'd be getting from gamers that do not want to play by the rules.

We've heard about Niantic taking measures against cheaters in Pokemon GO before. We've seen them speak publicly about their efforts to make the game 100% legit for people who want to play the game it was meant to be played. In the last week more than any time before, Niantic has pushed to make Pokemon GO a real-deal GPS-dependent game for everyone.

Niantic is Hiring Bounty Hunters

Niantic would probably have a lot of luck if they offered bounties for finding fixes for the loopholes in their game's location tracking. They'd also probably be passing out a whole lot of checks – since there's still a lot to patch up. But while they aren't passing out bounties per se, they are trying to hire people who go out and hunt.

Let's talk about the implications of the post Niantic's made recently in their job listings. They're looking for a Machine Learning Engineer. Someone to make sense of the massive amount of data the company acquires from both Pokemon GO and Ingress every single day. The task at hand is relatively unprecedented.

Requirements of the job include a "PhD in Computer Science with a thesis in machine learning, or thesis grounded in machine learning techniques in other engineering or science fields." Also "Repeated experience analyzing and creating empirically verifiable models based on real-world data using multiple approaches." They suggest that that this is just another one of their invitations to find "a new place to call home and build cool games," but as a whole bunch of Reddit users like ReBootYourMind suggest: "Machine learning is the best tool to detect cheaters in game this massive and Niantic is looking for an expert in this field. The TL;DR of the description is that the job would be to detect and ban cheaters."

Location Spoofers: Prepare for Trouble

Recent revelations in cheater-based Discord channels – which we will not be linking to here – suggest that one of the most reliable ways to get one's self out of a soft-ban has been destroyed. That's the one we spoke about in our Soft Ban Issues thread from earlier this month. The one where a player spins a Pokestop 40 times in a row and gets to play again like they never cheated in the first place – that's either gone or on its way out.

Ban Waves have become more frequent over the past few weeks, so say spoofers and Pokemon Go monster map makers we've spoken with. These hackers – or whatever you want to call them – are finding it difficult to find enough reason to continue to play this behind-the-scenes game. It's not just a matter of making new accounts for these non-kosher Pokemon GO elements, it's the time and effort it takes to do it.

Snipers: Make it Double

A recent change in the way each Pokemon's stats and features are generated has made the "sniping" world kick a giant bucket, too. Instead of every Pokemon having the same stats (with different CP numbers) no matter which account sees it, things are more random now. Everyone under level 30 sees a different Pokemon – there's a giant effort that goes into play to get an account to level 30, so spoofers aren't taking the time to do it as often.

Niantic has also changed the way users are pinged when capturing Pokemon, effectively destroying Pokemon GO snipers entirely. Before, the game would check the location of the Pokemon and the player only when caught. Now the location check happens when the Pokemon is encountered, then again when caught.

Fun Times are Here Again

I suppose I should say Fair Times are here again. Save those players who've been cheating since the beginning of the game, those players who have stacks and stacks of Dragonites and Gyarados and whatnot. Those players might never get caught – but for the sake of the children, we'll keep crossing our fingers.

But only if they stop now, and go completely legal. For users that are addicted to taking as much advantage of the loopholes in the system as possible, this isn't going to be easy. But considering the possibility that months and months of work could potentially go down the drain at the drop of a hat, there's a real heavy decision they're going to have to make.

Keep cheating if you want, hackers and spoofers, but the end is (probably) near. Or at least Niantic wants everybody to believe that the end of cheating is near. Either way, change is in the air. For more information on the next big update to Pokemon GO, tap our @TeamPokemonGOTwitter portal and hit up the memes!