As 2019 draws to a close, we’d like to take this opportunity to share an end-of-year update on some of our efforts to prevent cheating in our games, to promote transparency and to improve trust within our community.
While there is no perfect method for identifying and stopping people who cheat in our games, and while we may never be able to identify and stop all cheating and other forms of abuse, we work hard to protect the integrity of our games and make sure they are fair for everyone. Here are a few examples of what we’ve accomplished in the last several months:
- In 2018, we launched the Three Strikes Discipline Policy in Pokémon GO to tackle cheating and give first- and second-time offenders the opportunity to reform their ways. Earlier this year we implemented the same in Ingress and launched it in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
- This year we identified new cheating techniques and devised strategies to tackle them. For example, we recently discovered some users were using a service called VMOS (Virtual Machine OS) to spoof their locations and took measures aimed at stopping that form of cheating.
- We took action against unauthorized third-party item sellers prevalent in Ingress. Many accounts that were found participating in “farming” or distribution of gear were banned from Ingress, ultimately leading to the closure of some of these sellers’ stores.
- We’ve successfully worked with the app distribution platforms to remove hundreds of third-party services or apps that were found to be in violation of our Terms of Service. We’ll continue to monitor, and where appropriate, take action against other unauthorized services and apps. (As a reminder, using third-party or modified versions of our apps is a violation of our Terms of Service and can lead to a permanent loss of your account. Please help us keep our games fair and safe for everyone by only using official versions of our apps found on Google Play Store, Apple App Store and the Samsung Galaxy Store.)
We have also worked hard to make sure that our enforcement efforts are accurate and fair. For example, when we learned that a very small portion of players using certain Xiaomi devices were incorrectly getting flagged for cheating, we quickly addressed the issue to ensure those players were not unfairly punished.
We want to close by thanking everyone who has done their part to keep our games fair by reporting illegitimate gameplay via our support sites. With your help, we will continue working to provide a fun and fair environment across all of our games in 2020.
—The Niantic team