I used to be hardcore anti-spoofing. My rational rallied around my joy for Pokémon GO, and that’s traveling & hunting, walking miles & miles at a time to finally find that rare, coveted Pokémon that fills the cobwebbed corners of the dex.
Then one day at an Ex-Raid, I realized one of our players was in the gym, but nowhere to be found.
Said player wasn’t in the cars, in the park, along the creek, in the public bathrooms…anywhere. And said player didn’t live close enough to drop in.
Note, out here, there ain’t but 25,000 residents in Tillamook County, OR.
It took us months of testing and coordinating to trigger multiple Ex-Raids, let alone make it a weekly event. So, that said player was in was a good thing, regardless of method.
I wasn’t mad.
I wasn’t disappointed.
It just didn’t sound as fun to me.
Curious, I asked the player’s neighbors where said player was.
“Said player’s probably spoofing,” I was told.
“Doesn’t said player live nearby?”
I figured the answer would be that said player was spoofing from work, or worked a midnight or the like…
“The player is very sick, and is probably babysitting their child.”
“Oh, shit,” I said. I also said a prayer, admitting to being shell-shocked when hearing of the condition.
The sickness is the player’s story to tell, but the condition made me re-evaluate spoofing in Pokémon GO.
Yes, Niantic, Pokémon GO’s maker, has ‘rules’ to promote authentic playing.
They are under Section 3.1 Cheating in Niantic Terms of Service.
- Accessing Services in an unauthorized manner (including using modified or unofficial third party software);
- Playing with multiple accounts for the same Service;
- Sharing accounts;
- Using any techniques to alter or falsify a device’s location (for example through GPS spoofing); and/or
- Selling or trading accounts.
Just as potentially true is the frequency and reach of the player base who break one or few of these rules.
- If you used your buddy or partner’s account to duo a raid, you’ve broken these rules.
- If you’ve researched the IV rating of your players before summer 2019, you’ve broken these rules.
- If you played an account not your own because your child, friend, or grandchild couldn’t make the Ex-Raid, you’ve broken these rules.
- If you used to subscribe to those Discord bots who’d notify you that a, say, Chansey had spawned 10 minutes down the road from your location, you’ve broken these rules.
- If you knock players out of a gym, not to take over the gym, but to shave a player off to put another one in, you’ve broken these rules.
- If you have driven at under 15 MPH and leave the app on, you’ve broken these rules.
- Well, technically it’s in 3.2 Safe and Appropriate Use
- If you used the Go-Tcha instead of the Go+, you’ve broken these rules.
It’s comical to hear the varying degree of rule-breakers shun other rulebreakers as if breaking one rule is more or less egregious than the other.
As if the third-party IV checkers who’ll play with the multi-account player is somehow more dignified than the spoofer who’s probably multi-tasking but still participating. And vice versa.
We’re all equally guilty.
Where does Niantic draw the line?
It’s a good question because they can bust us all for these activities. They can suspend our accounts, warn us, ban us. I mean, they’ll hand out soft bans like Sunday morning church programs anytime a player logs in for a buddy who was playing across town in attempts to get them that 97.8, Level 30 Wailmer.
But at this point, if they were hardcore enforcing their rules, they wouldn’t have much left of their player base.
I’m guessing their fine line swirls around a few of the following options:
- If you’re spoofing the coin system, hacking it to get free coins out of the app stores, then they’re probably banning your ass. And possibly bringing up charges.
- If you’re flouting about your brazen disregard for the rules in attempts to up your YouTube views, follower accounts, and sell shit, they’ll probably banning your ass.
- If you’re grouping up with individuals and knocking folks out of every gym just to be mean, and leaving them shitty Discord chats, you’re probably getting banned.
- If you’re chronically shaving folks out of gyms just because you don’t like the people, you’re probably getting banned.
- If you go to raids and events and continue to disparage to other players, you’re probably getting banned.
Time Travel: Player moves that would require a TARDiS to do in real life.
If you’re hopping from Japan to Mexico to Seattle to Mumbai, catching Regionals and rares, especially with 91.1+ IV ratings, and your account is traveling these locations at intervals not even Elon Musk could achieve with his fastest SpaceX gear, you’re probably going to discover the mons you caught on the spree have been grayed out.
Otherwise, Niantic might have an ADA lawsuit on their hands.
“Really? That’s horseshit.”
Who wants to play Litigious Poker?
Sure, Niantic sued Global++, but at that point, Global++ hacked all Niantic’s games, including the to-be-released-at-the-time Harry Potter Wizards Unite.
Pokémon GO, by default, is a freemium level game. It’s a game that’s touted folks from all walks of life can play. It’s a game of inclusion, acceptance, and engagement. It’s a game that’s helped those with anything from weight issues, to social anxiety, to victims of bullying and many other conditions find repose. It’s given a conduit of communication and commonality to those who don’t get to see their friends like they used to.
I remember watching those kids in Bay Area running Hell-for-leather around the park, the apartment buildings, and the shopping district in our complex was invigorating. Someone got the texting generation off their asses and out in the California Sun.
But some folks simply can’t move around like that.
Around here, we got folks physically inable to get around. Some are aging. Others are sick. There are also those who are impaired.
They use cars. Or are driven. Or they spoof. Both break the rules.
In the beginning, I general-ed the condition and gender of said player, but the truth is we have a few people that every time I hear from them, I’m glad to know they made it another day.
We got folks who work doubles.
We got folks who are pregnant.
We’ve got folks who must go into the valley during the week and make it back on the weekend.
We’ve got folks who don’t have autos.
Seriously, the number of folks around here who can’t drive is astonishing. All these towns are peppered about, requiring miles to travel between each location. And that bus ain’t that frequent.
Those around here who spoof spend serious coin to get serious Pokémon GO coin.
Many of these players drop serious cash into their Google Play & App Store accounts to play these games, run 9 egg incubators at a time, and raid multiple times a day. Every spoofer around here continues to buy coins, further padding Niantic’s pocket.
I’m safe-betting we’re not the only part of the world like this.
Spoofers in general spend a ton.
It’s hard to find one who doesn’t…except maybe me, you know, if I did that.
Niantic would be biting the hand that helps feed their gluttonous appetite.
If Niantic started dropping the hammer on folks who use iSpoofer and their $4.00 USD a month to pretend they went into town to do an L5 raid with other players, the number of players they’d pummel would hit them in their own bank account in the long run.
It wouldn’t take much to show that spoofing is the only way some of these folks are able to stay engaged.
If Niantic wants their golden goose to continue to be an inclusive, engaging game for all their adoring fans, then like they did with their own IV rating, they’ll need to come up with their own location modification tool – even as an add-on – to allow their less-able fans, especially ones who could qualify under the ADA, feel and be included.
Personally, I think Pokémon GO should be more ADA-compliant.
Litigious Poker continues:
- Visually-Impaired man is / has played
- There are great debates
- More great debates for ADA-compliant features
- There is precedence in place for other popular cyberspace games to include ADA-compliant features.
A Spoofing-type feature would benefit those who love Pokémon GO but aren’t mobile.
After these many billions in revenue, the decision to create their own such add-on should be a no-brainer.
At worst, I have some good friends who wouldn’t be able to play, and that would be an unrepentant shame.