Pokemon GO has been a hit this summer, ever since it was released in America earlier in July, and other parts of the world soon followed. However, not everyone has access to the game yet, and many have taken to using some tech tricks to emulate their experience.
Although effective, tools like GPS Spoofing and Bots are frowned upon in Niantic's TOS. Recently, the company has taken more of a firm initiative in discouraging would-be cheaters from engaging in such acts with a legendary weapon: The dreaded Ban-Hammer. It may seem harsh, but there are varying levels to the proverbial e-punishment.
So, have you been a naughty Trainer? Here's how to tell whether you've been caught, and the difference between softbans and the almighty perma-ban.
Pokemon Go Soft ban Symptoms:
In earlier versions of Pokemon GO, softbanning was a way to temporarily punish players who were suspected of not playing the game by the book. Players who traveled large distances too fast suddenly found themselves unable to the play the game, but there were problems to this system, and innocent players were being affected as well.
For example, a player flying from London to Japan would lose their GPS location during the flight, so when turning it back on at their destination, Google would assume it was a spoofer. Drivers who didn't obey speed limits and arrived at their destination early would also be penalized, because the time frame and distance traveled wasn't within reasonable limitations.
Thankfully, the bans were only temporary, and usually wore off between 15 minutes - 3 hours depending on the severity of your distance jump. Here are the common signs you've been softbanned:
PokeStops Don't Work
It's still pretty common to run across a stubborn PokeStop that will allow you to spin it, but return an error to "Try Again Later". However, this is very different. If you run across a PokeStop that seems unresponsive (you can spin it, and it turns purple, but does not yield any rewards or message), you may be softbanned.
This is the most common way to determine if you are softbanned or not, especially if multiple PokeStops give you the same result.
Wild Pokemon Flee
If it seems like you're wasting balls on flighty Pokemon, you could be softbanned. No matter how many Pokemon you run into, they simply won't stay in the ball, or hang around to be caught. Sound familiar? This is another common case of the softban blues, making it impossible for you to obtain any new Pokemon through the probation period.
Gyms Don't Work
Whether it's a friendly Gym or a rival's, you just can't start a match. Sure, you'll see those big "GO" letters come up on the screen, but shortly after, it returns you to the map with no explanation. Sadly, this too is a part of the softban curse, stopping you from gaining any XP, Gyms or PokeCoins for the duration of the time-out.
The game doesn't specify for how long your punishment will last, but rest assured that it is just temporary.
Pokemon Go Perma Ban
The name speaks for itself: the permanent banning of a player's account. This is a relatively new feature, with reports only surfacing this month alone. While it appears Niantic's primary targets are accounts which use bots to power through the game, the company declares that any account which shows clear signs of cheating will be terminated.
This also includes (but is not limited to): using third-party software to track pokemon, using stat tracking and IV calculators like PokeAdvisor or related apps, GPS spoofing of any sort, selling/buying accounts, and especially bots.
Players who have their accounts banned will receive an e-mail regarding Niantic's disciplinary actions. This means all of your Pokemon, all of your levels and all of your work is instantly locked away forever. Trainers who are perma-banned have only two options: Start a brand new account with a new Gmail address, or make an appeal.