The Pokémon series is no stranger to cheaters and hackers. Since way back in the days of Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow, fans have cheated their way to the catches and Pokémon they wanted. Remember the Mew-under-the-truck rumor? Sure, it was fun to spread around at recess, but it was a load of rubbish. Who needed it, anyway, when you could just pop in your chunky late-90s Action Replay and make a Mew spawn in any old patch of grass you wanted?
Fast forward two decades, and the franchise has advanced in huge and exciting ways. With Pokémon Go, we’re hunting Pokémon in the real world. As children, who didn’t dream of running into a wild ponyta on their way over to grandma’s house? Now, that childhood dream is a reality. Sadly, though, one thing hasn’t changed: cheating is still rather rife in Pokémon Go.
Since the game was first released a year ago, the dev team at Niantic have shut down a good few unofficial Pokémon-tracking websites and apps, claiming them to be unfair and against the spirit of the game. There was a real backlash from players about this (the in-game tracking being as horrendous as it was) but Niantic stood firm. Earlier this week on Reddit, they announced their plans to hit back against another wave of unlawful play.
According to the team, they now have a system in place that can ‘mark’ Pokémon that were caught in the app by means of a third-party device. In the inventory, you will see a slash mark next to any offending Pokémon, similar to the system used in the main game (in which various symbols could be attached to your Pokémon for identification and organization purposes).
In and of itself, this doesn’t really count for much. What’s significant about this ‘marking’ of hacked Pokémon is that Niantic has threatened that they may not behave as expected. Will they ignore your commands and loaf around, as they do when you don’t have enough badges in the main series? Will they self-destruct in five seconds, Mission Impossible style? Nobody knows yet, but it certainly sounds ominous for hackers. In the light of the game’s most significant update yet, which overhauls gyms and adds co-op raid battles to proceedings, Niantic are taking a stand. Or at any rate, they’re trying to.
One way or another, cheating will always have a home in the Pokémon series and will have to be dealt with. In the perfect-Pokémon-or-bust competitive world of IVs, EVs and egg moves, many players resort to the quick fix of simply altering their teams with third-party devices. This is becoming more and more common, and hack checks at tournaments often fail to pick up on anything untoward. With all of this in mind, it’ll be interesting to see how Go’s measures fare --and how players manage to circumvent them-- going forward.