Pokémon Go developer Niantic Labs is now issuing permanent bans to players whose accounts "show clear signs of cheating," the company said in a blog post last night.
"After reviewing many reports of in-game cheating, we have started taking action against players taking unfair advantage of and abusing Pokémon Go," said Niantic. "Moving forward, we will continue to terminate accounts that show clear signs of cheating."
The official notice from Niantic comes approximately one week after developers of Pokémon Go bots began reporting that they had received cease-and-desist letters from the studio. Groups like Necronomicon, the operator of a Pokémon Go bot called NecroBot, preemptively shut down their software in response to those reports.
Since the debut of Pokémon Go in early July, there have been countless reports of players using bots to cheat while playing the game. The bot software generally uses a technique called GPS spoofing — simulating the act of walking around by sending faked GPS coordinates to Pokémon Go’s servers. Bots promise cheaters the ability to catch Pokémon without ever setting foot outside and thereby power-level their accounts. The cheating threatened to ruin the game for legitimate players.
"Our main priority with Pokémon Go is to provide a fair, fun, and legitimate game experience for all players," said Niantic. "If our system has determined that you cheated, then you will receive an email stating that your account has been terminated."
Niantic has reportedly been issuing temporary "soft bans" — a situation in which players can still get into the game but are unable to actually do anything in it — since early in the life of Pokémon Go. However, the company apparently began permanently banning cheaters last week. Using bots or other unauthorized third-party software is a clear violation of the game’s terms of service, although players who feel their accounts have been "terminated incorrectly" can appeal their ban to Niantic.