Niantic, the developer of the augmented reality game, Pokémon GO has introduced a new measure to make things harder for users “cheating” in the game. Pokémon GO has been using third-party services to get ahead of the game through maps showing the exact location of new Pokémon, and bot accounts to map nearby areas and notify users when rare Pokémon are found. Niantic has been consistent in banning players and third-party services which violate its terms of service, and has now devised a new way to ban cheaters.
The Silph Road, a community on Reddit for Pokémon GO players, posted this discovery of Niantic’s new anti-cheat measure. According to The Silph Road, Niantic is stopping bot accounts from discovering new and rare Pokémon. The targeted bot accounts by Niantic, usually end up finding the common Pokémon like Caterpie, Pidgey, Rattata, Zubat and Raichu. In doing so, Niantic is actually flagging these bots as illicit and huge number of bots has so far been flagged. The Silph Road calls this ‘shadowban’.
The Silph Road further adds that some bot accounts have shut down their operations temporarily to avoid being shadowbanned and also to find a way to tackle Niantic’s anti-cheating measure. The algorithm that Niantic is using to flag these bot accounts is still unknown. Niantic would ban bot accounts previously, but this new system is notable since this is an automated ban system. The Silph Road says that users can create new bot accounts, but considering how the shadowban is going strong, these may be flagged off as illicit as well. ALSO READ: After Pokémon GO, Nintendo launches Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon games
The Silph Road also applauds the efforts of Niantic in bringing up this new system and mentions how this marks the start of a Machine Learning technique to detect bots. In fact, they believe that if Niantic continues to work on this, then more bots would be in trouble. The post reads, “If the parameters for a shadowban are constantly adjusted server-side, as they can now easily be, then Niantic’s machine learning engineers can train their detection (classification) algorithms in ever-improving, ever more aggressive ways, and botters will constantly be forced to re-evaluate what factors may be triggering the detection.” ALSO READ: Meet PokeMatch: A Tinder-like dating app for Pokémon Go fans
This is one of Niantic’s many efforts to ensure a level playing field in Pokemon GO. Last year Niantic banned players who violated its terms of services by using methods like GPS spoofing, and third-party services and apps to access Pokemon GO clients. While Niantic stays strong with its new bot banning system, The Silph Road believes that their reverse-engineers will “nail down what it is that’s tripping this shadowban, they’ll simply be able to adjust their bots to avoid it”. ALSO READ: Apple App Store generated record $20 billion in 2016; Pokémon GO most downloaded iOS app