Niantic, the developer of Pokemon Go, is reversing some of the permanent bans it issued mistakenly over the last few weeks, it announced in a blog post. Niantic’s team started issuing bans based on whether players were using tools that were against the the copmany’s terms of service, said John Hanke, chief executive of Niantic.
Pokemon Go developer realizing mistake
Niantic started issuing permanent account bans about two weeks ago. The bans were put in for players using third-party mapping tools designed to show where Pokemon were located, such as PokeVision, which is now defunct. The game developer started cutting off access to those third-party apps earlier this month, but for the past few weeks, it has been issuing permanent account bans aggressively, notes The Verge.
In some cases, the less popular mapping tools collected data on the players and sent it to Niantic’s servers. This, according to Hanke, resembled a DDOS or distributed denial of service attack. DDOS is a relatively basic and very common technique, in which a hacker or a cyber-attacker attempts to overwhelm a service with a lot of automated traffic. This would jam up the servers and frequently result in slow working of the game or the website, explains The Verge.
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Niantic acted indiscriminately when it came to safeguarding its servers, as those data transfers appeared malicious.
“Because of this we have had to ban some accounts associated with using these add-on map tools, leading to confusion by some users about why they were banned,” Hanke noted, adding that this is only a small subset of the accounts that were banned.
Still monitoring for suspicious tools
Now the game developer is going through the accounts it banned to reinstate the accounts of those not violating the terms of service knowingly. However, Niantic did state that it will continue to ban accounts that violate its terms of service. Hanke clarified in the blog post that the add-on maps scraping data from their servers are still violating their terms of service, and use of them may result in an account ban in the future.
Hanke added that accounts that use GPS spoofing techniques to play in other areas around the world and those created to scrape from the game will remain permanently banned. Hanke concluded that their main priority is to provide a fair, fun, and legitimate experience for all users; therefore, “aggressive banning will continue to occur for players who engage in these kinds of activities.”