Cheating in Pokemon Go? How to know if you’ve been banned

Pokémon Go cheating

Hanging your phone from the ceiling fan, sticking it to a cycle wheel or leaving it to spin around on a turntable to hatch eggs in Pokemon Go while you sit back and munch on wafers makes for great YouTube videos (warning: NSFW language). These can fetch you millions of views, but try these stunts now and chances are the ban hammer will come crashing down. Hard. Niantic, developer of Pokemon Go, is understandably not too pleased about gamers gaming its game. The company has now started permanently banning the accounts of those who are cheating.

It could be messing around with GPS settings, using emulators and bots, or trying to outsmart the game from the comforts of their couch while their hardworking peers huff and puff outdoors searching for monsters.

Does it impact players in the UAE?

If you play fair, life should go on as normal, even if you are in an unsupported country. And the reason is simple: it would be a terrible business decision by Niantic to ban players in regions it plans to enter in the future. As Ungeek aptly puts it, “A huge number of people probably downloaded the APK and to device-ban that many users would be shooting themselves in the foot in terms of potential users and revenue.” However, Niantic will increasingly crack down on players who have downloaded modified versions of the games from unofficial sources such as XDA. Meanwhile, those who are cheating might have a nastier surprise in store.

Soft and hard ban

This is where it gets a bit confusing. You could either get soft banned (the equivalent of being reprimanded and warned not to do it again) or hard banned — you have been booted out. End of discussion.

But how do you tell the difference? Well, as Heavy.com explains, you may be soft banned if Pokestops spin but nothing happens and they remain blue, or if you throw a Pokeball at a Pokemon and it hits, but the monster simply doesn’t respond. A soft ban can often be triggered if the game is open while you are travelling at over 60 kmph — surely even Usain Bolt cannot go that fast while catching Pokemon! You could be out of the game for a few minutes to a day, and how that duration is calculated is currently a mystery.

The new danger, however, is getting banned permanently. If you repeatedly see the message, “Failed to get game data from the server”, well, it may be more than just temporary server issues. Also watch out for an official email from Niantic that brings you the bad news. You can appeal the ban, though it is unclear if anyone is actually there at the other end, reading appeals and lifting bans. So good luck with that!

The silver lining here is that the bans currently appear to be tied to accounts, not IP addresses, phone numbers or IMEI. This also means you can create a new account and start afresh. Of course, if Niantic isn’t able to bring cheating under control, expect it to hit back with stronger measures. Including sending monsters after you.