Niantic's Pokémon GO is apparently taking extreme new measure to deter its players from cheating. Alongside a massive overhaul of its gym system, the latest update will permanently mark the Pokémon trainers who try and get around their advanced security systems.
The war against cheaters is heating up just after the game's Fire and Ice event, and although Pokémon GO's latest battle system attempts to lure players back again, Niantic isn't above showing those using underhand tactics the door. It has been a long battle with Pokémon GO's cheaters, with those who live in rural areas being particular advocates of helpful software. That being said, Niantic isn't pulling any punches and has a zero tolerance stance on the issue.
Appearing on Reddit, an official Niantic support account revealed the surprising new feature which will come into play with the rest of the update. The augmented-reality game will now put a slash above Pokémon you catch while cheating, which may also have some adverse side effects:
"With the announcement of Raid Battles and the new battle features, we are staying true on our commitment to ensuring that Pokémon GO continues to be a fun and fair experience for all Trainers. Starting today, Pokémon caught using third-party services that circumvent normal gameplay will appear marked with a slash in the inventory and may not behave as expected. We are humbled by the excitement for all the new features we announced yesterday. This is one small part of our continued commitment to maintaining the integrity of our community and delivering an amazing Pokémon GO experience."
While we still don't know which third-party software will trigger the firewall, it's expected that websites revealing the location of Pokémon spawns could be one way to get your pocket monsters branded. Elsewhere, known "spoofers" that trick the game's GPS system are sure to give you the mark of shame. It is ironic that Niantic mentions Pokémon not behaving as expected, mirroring the defiant nature of the creatures from the anime and handheld games who didn't always listen to their trainers.
In addition to tarring cheaters and an updated gym system, the big summer update introduces Gym Raids, where players can work in a cooperative mode to take down enemy gyms, gain badges and big rewards, as well as snare some rare Pokémon. The writing is on the wall on whether the summer update can help the game's hemorrhaging fanbase, while some feel that Pokémon GO's time has already come and gone.
Being publicly shamed may put some people off, but don't count on it stopping the cheaters altogether. Niantic's previous tricks involved "shadowing" players who didn't play by the rules, meaning that only common or undesirable Pokémon would spawn near them. While a pack full of Pidgeys and Ratattas would deter most, the ever-advancing hackers still found a way around the punishments. Only time will tell whether this new slash system will really rid the game of cheaters.