Since the launch of Pokémon Go last week, there have been multiple reported cases of players being banned for GPS spoofing — changing their location to catch Pokémon in other cities and take over remote gyms without ever getting out of their seats. While most players using GPS spoofing and modified versions of the game are from rural areas where it's a little more desolate for budding trainers, developer Niantic Labs doesn't hold any sympathy, and has been issuing soft bans on players who decide to cheat.
According to players who have been dealt bans for using GPS spoofing hacks, once they were discovered, they were no longer able to catch Pokémon, collect items from PokéStops and couldn't battle or claim a gym. When trying to throw a PokéBall at a Pokémon in the game, players discovered the opposing Pokémon would just run away instead. Most players have used the cheating tool to flock to heavily populated areas, like New York City, where there are more Pokémon available to be caught.
Despite the slight annoyance players have had to deal with from the ban, many on the game's subreddit page said it's not enough to stop them from using cheating tools. As one player said, it's only a soft ban and the inability to effectively play the game only lasts for a couple of hours. It's an interesting discovery considering when players tried to use GPS spoofing technology during the game's beta stage, they were met with harder bans from Niantic, who seem to have dialed back the punishment being doled out to players caught cheating.
Polygon has reached out to Niantic about the soft bans players caught cheating have been given and whether or not the severity of those punishments will increase as updates to the game are rolled out.