Blog
February 23, 2021
An Update on Our Recent AntiCheat Efforts

We don’t talk much about our anticheat efforts, partly because we don’t want to provide cheaters with information that can help them understand our detection mechanisms better. But, rest assured our reluctance to share is not due to a lack of effort or intent from our side.

Having said that, we have made a commitment with all of our players towards promoting fair gameplay, preserving the integrity of our games and improving transparency with our players. As part of this commitment we’d like to provide an update on some of our recent efforts to curb cheating in our games:

  • Since the beginning of 2020, we’ve issued punishments to more than 5 million cheaters across Pokémon GO, Ingress and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, where over 20% of the punishments were permanent bans.
  • More than 90% of users who received their first warning, stopped cheating afterwards. This is quite encouraging for us, as we continue to find the right balance between punishing casual cheaters versus the more egregious ones.
  • We have invested in new & emerging technologies, while continuing to grow our team, to improve our detection and enforcement capabilities. We’ll continue to act against those who violate our terms of service and we’ll be reinforcing our efforts in the coming weeks.
  • We are constantly tweaking and improving our existing detection methods by collecting ground truth from player reports and other channels of feedback, to ensure we are accurately detecting cheaters and minimising false positives.
  • We are always listening to our players and are exploring ways to leverage our community to ensure our games remain fair. To empower all Ingress Agents, we’ve rolled-out a new Fast Track process, which would enable them to request for a quicker manual intervention, before the rogue Agent can cause more damage to the gameboard. Since then, we’ve received more than 4K Fast Track requests, of which ~70% were eligible for an expedited review; and after investigating, appropriate actions were taken against those reported Agents. We’ll continue to iterate and improve the process based on the feedback we receive from the community.
  • To address concerns of remote Ingress Portals getting spoofed during Ops, we’re working on introducing additional security measures to reduce the impact of such egregious cheating on the game board. We’ll be sharing more information about our Compartmental Access Level measures in the coming weeks on the Ingress forum and our other social channels.

We are committed to ensuring fair gameplay across our game portfolio. Every day newer forms of cheating or spoofing tools are made available on the internet, and we are continuously working to combat these cheaters and focus on improving our detection and enforcement; as they have no place in our games.

As a reminder, please only use the official versions of our games available on Google Play Store, Apple App Store and Samsung Galaxy Store; and note that we do not support jailbroken or rooted devices.

Thank you all for your continued support and patience.

–The Niantic team

February 11, 2021
Announcing Niantic’s Black Developers Initiative

During last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests for racial justice, I discussed Niantic’s commitment to change and how we would take action to continue to be a force for good in the world. Those efforts have included supporting our Black and underrepresented minority employees, empowering all employees to combat systemic racism and social injustice, and creating powerful, scalable impact through the culture, ideas, and role models we help to create.

On that last point, we specifically committed to funding and supporting projects from Black developers. Increasing content that represents a more diverse view of the world is critical and central to Niantic’s mission to inspire people to explore the world together.

So today, it brings me great pleasure to announce our Black Developers Initiative (BDI). BDI is our commitment to providing access, opportunity, resources, and mentorship to Black game and AR developers.

The BDI mission is to fund new projects from Black game development teams - ranging in size from newer, indie teams to larger, veteran studios - for the purpose of building game prototypes that can live on the Niantic platform. Selected BDI teams will be provided with funding for five months of development, executive mentorship, and development support from members of the Niantic team. They will also join a growing community of peers and program alumni who they can continue to build relationships with beyond the duration of the program. At the end of the five months, development teams will have created a playable prototype and a pitch deck for a real-world augmented reality game.

Today we are issuing a call for all interested Black gaming and AR developers to apply to our Black Developers Initiative here. As an extension of our Beyond Reality Initiative, we’re already well acquainted with working with aspiring game and AR developers. I’m excited to share with you that we’ve already signed a Black and Women-led game studio as part of BDI, W!CKED SAiNTS Studio, and we look forward to seeing what they create in the months ahead.

Thank you for reading, and I encourage you to share about the Black Developers Initiative with anyone who might be interested.

-jh

January 28, 2021
Niantic and Verizon Advance the Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance to Enable Advanced Multiplayer Augmented Reality Experiences on Verizon’s 5G Mobile Edge Compute Platform

At today’s GamesBeat: Into the Metaverse event, our Founder and CEO John Hanke and Verizon Consumer Group CEO Ronan Dunne announced a milestone in the Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance via testing in a lab environment. Together, we will enable advanced multiplayer AR experiences using Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband and Verizon’s 5G Edge mobile edge computing platform (MEC). By bringing together Niantic’s AR innovations with Verizon 5G Edge and 5G Ultra Wideband network, our users will enjoy faster speeds, higher bandwidth and ultra low-latency.

At Niantic, we’re focused on delivering amazing, shared AR experiences through the conduit of our real-world AR mobile games. The ongoing rollout of Verizon’s 5G network and compatible ecosystem devices presents a number of exciting opportunities; we’re confident they will accelerate our vision of bridging the physical and digital worlds with advanced AR functionality, such as real-time synchronous multiplayer AR experiences in a shared environment. Earlier this month, we began actively testing on Verizon’s MEC in a lab environment for the development of an exclusive real-world AR experience. This is a key outcome of the Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance that we initiated last year, and we're thrilled to progress this work as partners. These early trials demonstrate how 5G Ultra Wideband and MEC enable further throughput and ultra low-latency that will enable truly next-level experiences – those that were once only achievable on game consoles. These tests prove we will scale on smartphones, and this is only the beginning of the next era for gaming. Industry collaboration is an important driver of consumer AR for the devices and networks of today–and those of tomorrow. We believe working together with a broad group of partners is the best way to develop and promote the adoption of consumer AR, while continuing to amaze Niantic explorers with great experiences. Together with Verizon, we’re progressing a shared goal of creating amazing real-world AR experiences that demonstrate the possibilities of 5G. We’re excited to continue our work with Verizon to push these efforts forward.

– The Niantic team