Pokémon GO Reverses Lifetime Bans

by Duncan MacRae

‘Aggressive banning’ will continue to occur in an effort to stop data scraping, though.

Pokémon GO creator Niantic has announced that lifetime bans it recently issued to certain users are being overturned.

The free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game has surpassed social media apps, such as Twitter, in daily active users, and is beating Snapchat and Whatsapp when it comes to the amount of time users spend in the app daily.

Criminals

And, while UK marketers are keeping a close eye on the game’s popularity and trying to figure out how they can take advantage of it, the game has also attracted the attention of criminals.

A Pokémon GO spokesperson said: “We continue to work to ensure the integrity of the game and the health of our servers by blocking unauthorised access and at times by banning offending accounts. This includes blocking bots, data scraping operations, and banning end user accounts associated with those activities. Some players may not have realised that some add-on map apps do more than just show you nearby Pokémon.”

Each end-user app can be used as a collection tool by the app creator, the spokesperson added, invisibly collecting and forwarding data to the app creator with or without the knowledge of the end user.

“These apps can have an effect similar to DDoS attacks on our servers. Because of this we have had to ban some accounts associated with using these add-on map tools, leading to confusion by some users about why they were banned. This is a small subset of the accounts banned.”

As a result of some changes Niantic has made to its infrastructure, it says it can now reverse the bans on this set of accounts.

The spokesperson explained: “Add-on maps which scrape data from our servers still violate our Terms of Service and use of them may still result in an account ban going forward. Accounts whose sole purpose was to scrape data are not being unbanned. Accounts which used apps or websites to remotely capture Pokémon, battle or deploy on Gyms, or harvest resources from PokéStops are also not being unbanned.”

Niantic says its main priority is to provide a fair, fun and legitimate experience for all players, so, aggressive banning will continue to occur for players who engage in these kinds of activities.