UPDATE 8/3 2:14 PM: Niantic has now taken away the legendaries these Pokémon Go players.
Original story below:
Legendaries are supposed to be the rarest, most unique monsters available in Pokémon Go; the sorts of creatures you would expect to only show up during special events announced by Niantic. And yet, a couple has unbelievably claimed that Articuno has spawned in Ohio, of all places.
Seriously. Ohio. Not Antartica, or some other traditionally icy, out-of-the-way location, like in the games, but somewhere in the middle of the US.
There’s video proof, which was shared last night to a Dayton Area Pokémon Go! Facebook group:
But even that is not enough to prove the Articuno is real—faked Pokémon Go legendaries circulated earlier this year through YouTube videos, after all.
“#Niantic gifted me with him,” said Kaitlyn Covey, who is one of the supposed Articuno owners, on a Facebook comment. “It is simply the truth!”
Yeah, right. So what’s going on here? Well, there are two big possibilities. The first is that the Coveys may be using a hack that changes the appearance of monsters in Pokémon Go on the client side. That “Articuno” may just be a Butterfree for all we know, it’s just been altered to look cooler.
The other, potentially messier possibility is that it is a glitch. On Reddit, there are many reports of users capturing one monster, only to have it turn into an entirely different Pokémon once in the Pokéball. Here is the glitch in action, as shown by Kieran M:
It’s theoretically possible that the couple did indeed catch Articuno, but only because Go has been messing up spawns lately.
While the Articuno may not be real or legitimate, its affect on the Dayton Facebook group certainly is:
Dozens of people in the Dayton group are arguing over the Articuno’s legitimacy, and are demanding further proof of its existence. Many of these Facebook users may not actually be from Ohio at all, but rather curious onlookers who saw the spectacle and wanted to know more. Either way, the Dayton group is now a miserable wall of anger, skepticism, and confusion.
Making things worse, some people claim to have spoofed their GPS location so that they could see the Ohio gym first-hand...
...only to them be banned by Niantic for cheating:
The Ohio Facebook group got so out of hand, it has now been renamed to “Was: Dayton Area Pokémon Go! Now: Articuno Freakshow.” Pretty accurate, really.
All of this over an Articuno which may not even be real. I predict mass hysteria once the first actual Pokémon Go legendary spawns.
Right now, there are a few reports of other legendaries randomly appearing around the world, all in unlikely places with even less believable stories. Maybe something is in the air, prompting people to hack their games to make shit up on the internet. Or maybe it’s the visual glitch. Whatever it is, lets hope these stories of legendaries don’t tear the rest of the world apart, too.
Update 2:16 PM: The Coveys have livestreamed their Articuno, as well as the alleged email that Niantic sent them promising the Articuno. Note that Niantic supposedly misspelled “Articuno” as “Articundo.” If the Coveys are lying, that’s one hilarious fuck-up. Otherwise, though, through that footage you can see the Articuno within the app, displaying on the Pokedex and everything, but given earlier fakes, that still may not be enough proof.
Update 7:17 PM: According to Geek.com, a Niantic spokesperson said the Articuno “was not from Niantic. It’s either a spoof or someone hacked the game.” Niantic is still looking into the situation