How to avoid getting banned in Pokemon GO

Posted by Nick Tylwalk on August 15th, 2016
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You may have heard people talk about a mythical "fate worse than death" before, but here's something that definitely fits that bill: getting banned from playing Pokemon GO -- forever.

We're being tongue in cheek while saying that, but it's happening more and more often. As reported by various media outlets over the last few days, Niantic has been issuing permanent bans to some Pokemon GO players for what it says are violations of the game's terms of service. To be fair, most people never read the TOS for, well, anything, but some of the issues the developers have pointed out are clear.

Things like using bots are actions that only the most passionate believers that users should be able to do whatever they want with software tend to defend. Other violations pointed out by Niantic are less obvious and have already been the subject of some debate within the Pokemon GO community.

But the rules are the rules, and all we can do is roll with them. In the interest of keeping you in the game, here are three things you shouldn't do if you want to avoid the banhammer.

Don't use third party tracking apps

Yes, this may seem like hypocrisy on our part, given that we've reported on numerous third-party map apps and tested a few of them out. That was before Niantic clarified things, though, which is why we're giving this advice now.

It's understandable that the devs wouldn't want people to use data from the game's own code to locate Pokemon, because that does feel like a cheat. What wasn't as obvious was if Niantic would frown on crowdsourced apps like Poke Radar and PokeFinder.

We can't say for sure that's been clarified, but the point now is that it's better to be safe than sorry. Niantic spelled out that players should not be using "modified or unofficial software," and all of these apps fall into the latter category. Use them if you will, but realize that you are doing so at your own risk.

Don't try to trick the GPS into thinking you are somewhere you are not

So far, the main argument for GPS spoofing is that people who live out in the sticks simply don't have access to the same variety of Pokemon as everyone else, to say nothing of a dearth of PokeStops, gyms, etc.

That's compelling, but Niantic has clearly stated that tricking your device's GPS for in-game benefit is considered cheating. Add in the fact that this activity is likely much easier for the devs to detect/prove and it simply doesn't seem worth it.

Don't use emulators to play Pokemon GO

This is the most straightforward of them all. We're not sure why anyone would even want to play the game on the PC considering mobility is such an important aspect in the gameplay, but people do a lot of things we don't understand. Play the real thing and you'll be just fine.

In closing, we're not weighing in on whether we necessarily agree with all of Niantic's stances or not, simply trying to keep you from getting banned. Follow these three guidelines and you should be good to go, pun somewhat intended.

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