Pokémon Sword and Shield players recently discovered an exploit they can use to inflate their competitive rankings, and the Pokémon Company is now threatening to ban anyone who doesn’t stop doing it.
The exploit revolves around quitting an online match right before you lose by holding down the power button on the Switch. It was first popularised by a tweet from user Ka_Cr_He that went viral on March 30 and was subsequently picked up on the gaming forum ResetEra. Players who get the timing just right won’t lose any points for their competitive ranking. Worse, though, is that the players who won don’t earn any points, either.
— 攻め意識 (@Ka_Cr_He) March 30, 2020
Yesterday, the Pokémon Company officially acknowledged the cheating in a post on its website. “Currently, we are checking whether some players have been purposefully cutting their internet connections during battle stadium ranking battles and internet-based competitions to manipulate their results,” a translation of it by Kotaku read.
The Pokémon Company continued:
“If in future investigations we discover that this sort of cheating and annoying behaviour is being repeated, such players will be excluded from future ranking battles and will not be able to participate in live battles or internet competitions. We may also decide to temporarily or permanently suspend their use of all online Pokémon Sword and Shield content.”
Pulling out the ethernet cord right before losing an online match to cancel the results is an old gaming trick, but it’s particularly nefarious when there are actual rewards on the line. Sword and Shield’s competitive versus mode is broken up into individual series that change roughly every month. Each has 11 ranked tiers, and players get better rewards, including incredibly rare and coveted items like Bottle Caps, the higher they finish. As a result, rage quitters who successfully use the exploit are stealing more than just bragging rights.
While the threat of bans will hopefully keep most players from using the cheat, it would be even better if Nintendo eventually patched it out altogether.