Niantic, the studio behind augmented reality mobile games like Pokémon Go, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Ingress, has reportedly punished over 5 million cheaters since the beginning of 2020, with over 1 million players receiving permanent bans across the three games.
“We are committed to ensuring fair gameplay across our game portfolio,” Niantic’s blog post reads. “Every day, newer forms of cheating or spoofing tools are made available on the internet, and we are continuously working to combat these cheaters and focus on improving our detection and enforcement as they have no place in our games.”
Niantic also said that 90% of players who received a warning immediately stopped cheating, a figure the company finds “quite encouraging” as it seeks to differentiate between casual disregard for its rules and “more egregious” attempts to get one over on the developers.
All that said, it should be noted that “cheating” in Niantic releases generally amounts to spoofing one’s location with third-party programs to trick the game into believing you’re walking across town and not, you know, sitting at your computer. This sort of behavior rarely ruins the experience for other users, but it eats into Niantic’s revenue, the greatest sin under capitalism.
Pokémon Go has made over $4 billion for Niantic since its release in 2016. At least $1 billion of that came in 2020 alone.