Ever since Pokémon GO launched, back in July, Niantic has been locked in a fierce and long battle with the developers of bots and various automated tools for the game. The company has put in place various mechanism to block them, and has banned thousands of accounts.
And Niantic’s latest offensive has seen them use a brand new tactic: shadowbanning. Instead of outright banning accounts, those that are found violating the Pokémon TOS are flagged, and then are forever doomed to see only the most common Pokémon species.
Ever pested after finding nothing but Rattata or Zubat during a walk? Well, that’s what’s going to happen to shadowbanned accounts, forever. A shadowbanned account will be unable to find Pokémon at certain known spawnpoints, even if other players can find them there.
This is a radical change in Niantic’s strategy, especially since the whole process is seemingly automated. Before, bot accounts were banned in waves, but now, they are shadowbanned without the developers doing anything. Naturally, bot developers will find ways to bypass the detection scripts, but Niantic will be able to adapt and improve them in the future. Not to mention that flagged accounts will forever remain flagged.
Here’s what a representative from Niantic had to say about those shadowbans:
We’re committed to maintaining the state of Pokémon GO and our community of Trainers. People who violate the Pokémon GO Terms of Service (including by using third party software and other cheats) may have their gameplay affected and may not be able to see all the Pokémon around them. While we cannot discuss the systems implemented, we can confirm that we are constantly refining new ways to ensure the integrity of the game in order to keep it fun and fair for all Trainers.
For more details about shadowbans, make sure to check out this pretty informative thread over at Reddit!