Cheating is rampant in Pokemon thanks to tools which allow players to create fake monsters with impossible stats from scratch. Well, it looks like some of the people messing around with their save files have gotten the hammer from The Pokemon Company.
According to leading Pokemon news site Serebii, 5954 people have been banned from going online in Sun and Moon, all for "altering save data". This means no ranked online battles and no participating in Global Missions, or anything that requires Game Sync. Here's what you see if you get banned but try to go online:
The Pokemon Company also promises to go after more cheaters going forward, which sounds good, until you consider the clusterfuck at the centre of this controversy.
It is very easy, for example, to go online, make a trade and accidentally get a hacked Pokemon from someone else. How will the developers classify "altered save data" in that case; will it only count if you used the hacked monster against others, regardless of where it came from? What if the monster was hacked but stays within "legal" bounds -- that is, has stats that are perfectly possible in-game? Pokemon experts are also noting that whatever system the developers use to determine "legal" unhacked monsters is not perfect, and will sometimes flag creatures that are of normal, in-game origin.
"At the moment there are a lot of fully legit Pokemon that just aren't being allowed online," said Joe Merrick, proprietor of Serebii. "Fully legit ones like the recent Meloetta event, Rotom's forms and so forth. Even Pokemon transferred from the Virtual Console games are having issues if you evolve them beyond them being the first 151 (so, for example, Seadra into Kingdra). There's also Pokemon with moves they can have in one Generation 1 game and not another being blocked from Bank (e.g. Mewtwo with Pay Day. Only possible in Red & Blue, not in Yellow). Also Alolan Marowak/Alolan Raichu with moves that Cubone and Pikachu could only get in previous generations."
It all sounds very messy, but fortunately, most of the ban reports I've seen online are coming from people who admit they messed with their games. Judging from discussions online, news of these mass bans aren't really going doing much to curb cheating -- players are already trying to figure out ways around it, and with time, whatever is setting off the proverbial alarm will be accounted for in "legality checkers" tools.
Still, just to be safe, you probably shouldn't be using cheating tools anyway. That said, it's funny/sad to think that these ban waves might make it even harder for players to reach those pesky Global Mission challenges.