It doesn't matter if you play it or not, there is little doubt that you've heard all about Pokémon Go by now. The app that has taken not just America, but many parts of the world, by storm has been making constant headlines for weeks. The subject matter is rarely the game, but rather the events surrounding the actual game players.
Today is no different, as a new report tells of an ambitious player from the United Kingdom who took advantage of the game's surging popularity and sold a rather advanced Pokémon Go account to the highest bidder on eBay. The result was a huge sale, but it looks like it won't come without possible ramifications for both buyer and seller.
The developer of Pokémon Go, Niantic Labs, was a former Google startup company that has branched off on its own to launch this smash hit game. The only catch here is that Niantic has terms of service associated with their app, and those terms read as follows under the Conduct, General Prohibitions, and Niantic’s Enforcement Rights section:
"By way of example, and not as a limitation, you agree that when using the Services and Content, you will not:
...use the Services or Content, or any portion thereof, for any commercial purpose or for the benefit of any third-party or in a manner not permitted by these Terms, including but not limited to (a) gathering in App items or resources for sale outside the App, (b) performing services in the App in exchange for payment outside the App, or (c ) sell, resell, rent, or lease the App or your Account..."
The terms go on to note that Niantic reserves the right to observe, investigate, and disable access to any content that they choose at their discretion. This means selling your Pokémon Go account is not only in violation of the game rules, but it can get your account shut down. This is assuming that Niantic is paying attention, but surely the company is too busy with updating and maintaining the game to go after rogue users, right? Well, while looking into the sold auctions on eBay it appears that they may be doing just that.
There were only thirty sold account listings on eBay at the time of this story, but the one that stood out the most certainly had that whopping $1,500 price tag on it. The auction was listed as "Pokémon Go, Account is Level 21 with 1,730 CP Max Pokemom! (sic) Plus way more!" What stands out when viewing these auctions, however, is the menacing "This listing has been removed" message from eBay. It looks like this story has certainly garnered attention from Niantic, and therefore makes trying to sell your account a dangerous game.
It's not as though a move like this is without precedent; after all, World of Warcraft users have been building and selling their accounts for several years, with great success. There are no shortcuts, however, in the world of catching Pokémon. If you want to get ahead in the game, it look like you're going have to get on your feet and hunt like everyone else.
If you're lucky enough to be at the San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, you can check out the Pokémon Go panel with fellow fans in Hall H.