Pokemon GO 'Cheaters' Say Niantic Is Punishing Them By Hiding Rare Monster Spawns

For the last couple of days, the Pokemon GO community has erupted over a new security measure that allegedly hides rare monster spawns from cheaters.

By now you've probably heard about the myriad of third-party applications that Pokemon GO players use, such as tracking maps that tell people what creatures appear in a given area. While Niantic considers this cheating, within hardcore communities, playing Pokemon GO with "mappers" is considered an optimal and enjoyable way to play.

All the same, Pokemon Go Hub reports that some people using these services have been flagged by Niantic, sometimes getting a warning like so:

Image via Reddit user kdiddy733

Players are calling this a "shadowban," meaning that they can be in the same exact area as other players, but will only be able to view common spawns, such as Rattata and Pidgey, rather than rare and coveted ones. On Reddit, players have started to compile a list of monsters shadowbanned accounts can no longer see.

Image via Pokemon Go Hub

Image via Hong Jie Soh

Niantic, the makers of the game, have not addressed this publicly, neither confirming it nor shooting it down. We reached out to Niantic to ask about the so-called shadowban, but they have not yet responded to our requests for comment.

Despite lack of official confirmation, Pokemon GO communities are convinced shadowbans are taking place. Pokemon Go experts from The Silph Road, for example, are reporting this anti-cheat's supposed existence, stating "Some accounts suddenly stopped finding Pokemon at certain known spawnpoints. It turned out that they were incapable of seeing anything more than very common species."

Services that allow players to track rare monster spawns are currently polling their users to see if their accounts have been "blinded" by this change. Some mapping services, which rely on bots to gather data, are no longer working as intended, or are reporting outages. Some trackers are also starting to find workarounds for inaccurate scans due to, in their words, "changes made by Niantic."

Around the web and on social media, various players are seemingly confirming the existence of this anti-cheat method, with large public Pokemon Go communities, Reddits, and Tweets full of comments like:

"What the hell!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Niantic treat my account as a BOT. I cannot see any rare pokemons."

"That answers my question about why my maps are blank."

"That new...nothings rare come out from nearby sighthing for me..."

"I get nothing on the maps now."

"My account appears to have been shadowbanned. I noticed because my brother and I were playing together this morning, and I was missing half of the spawns (the good ones)."

"Was at the park today and a dude in the crowd couldn't see the Dratini everyone else could because he used an IV checker that logged into his account."

"Anyone chasing the larvitars on discord and noticing they're not always popping up on everyone's accounts?"

"idk what flagged my account, but I went out to play with my fiance and all the commons popped up for me but it wouldn't load the onix shuckle or kabuto she found right next to me."

Within these comments, multiple users claim that they have been falsely flagged as cheaters, but we cannot verify if these players have used a third-party app or not. Additionally, some players who confess to cheating claim that they have not been dinged by the latest changes, while others argue that using mapping services should not be considered cheating in the first place. Some players, for example, use maps because they lead busy lives, or live in rural areas.

While Niantic's war against mapping services and cheaters goes back since the release of the game, it's also worth noting that the developers recently teased the inclusion of legendaries this summer. It would make sense for Pokemon GO to beef up its blockade against cheaters, thereby preventing players from gaming their way to the rarest monsters.


Comments

    So if I understand it right, Niantic's primary aim is to identify the accounts that the mapping services use to locate pokemon, and give them an incomplete view of the world (so the rare pokemon won't show up on the maps).

    The accounts belonging to some real people have also been affected. Some or all of these people have been using unofficial client software to log in to Niantic's servers using their own credentials.

    Anyone who's dedicated enough to "cheat" with a mapper and is still playing this underwhelming game is obviously a die hard player and probably spending money on it. All Niantic would are doing here is screwing over their best customers.
    They either need to build in better tracking tools or commission "authorised" 3rd parties

      Not really. The people that cheat to find rare Pokemon can just as easily chaet to put themselves in areas with lots of pokestops so they can get near unlimited resources. The only thing you can ONLY buy is incubators, which they don't need anyway. Plus Cheaters can easily have very OP Pokemon allowing them to generate easy income from gyms anyway.

      People that spend money are the legitimate players that in areas that have very few pokestops.

      Every day I go for a walk, during that walk I'll play Pokémon Go. I don't really bother with Gyms or go out of my way for super rare Pokemon just a 5 minute drive away.

      I will go a couple of hundred meters off my normal route for a Pokemon I don't have.

      It's just something to do while walking to make me not think about the steps.

    I have little sympathy for players who use 3rd-party maps/trackers still afters being told not to but at the same time, it's really tiring to see Niantic continue to be a bunch of idiots around Pokemon Go. They're so focused to forcing people to play it their perfect way rather than actually bothering to improve features or functionality for the players.

    The game had (still has) so much potential... Instead my PoGo Plus sits somewhere around the house gathering dust because I physically can't play the game without first travelling about an hour, getting out of the car and focusing all my attention on a game designed around tapping a screen once every 5 minutes - making the Plus completely useless anyway.

      I personally use an auto walker. I live an hour away from any stops or spawn points but still want to play. So I set it to automatically walk the paths I take when I'm in town at the lowest speed I can. So half walking pace. It's my way to stay competitive with those in town without resorting to sniping and map trapping. I've also spent my fair share on incubators and I don't touch gyms unless I'm actually in town. Is it cheating. Yes, but not in the way where I get an unfair advantage.

    While i have zero sympathy for people who simply must cheat, I think the developer should impliment sensible features which make the game more fun and less of a grind.

    Pokemon go is both the most innacurate pedometer I own and one of the worst games I play. But it is also the most fun pedometer I play.

    If Niantic would just fix their shit, they'd find people playing more and happier.

    Please would someone let me know if you've been flagged and haven't cheated I've stumbled apon this article after being 'shadowbanned' to troubleshoot something that I assumed was just affecting my account, but noticing that it's multiple, but yet for a reason that I have not violated. I've only been playing 2 months and with GO fest and legendaries out now me and my partner have nearly been out of the house every day for the past 2 weeks. I am MAJORLY frustrated that this has happened to me and we're in august now this shadowbanning is dated in may so why am I so late to be 'banned' I emailed niantic for answers but honestly wanted to see if anyone else is in a similar place.

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