UPDATE: May 25, 2017, 9:09 a.m. EDT Niantic confirmed that people who violate the Pokémon Go terms of service (including using third-party software or cheats) may have their gameplay affected and may not be able to see all the Pokémon around them.
Pokémon Go is cracking down on players manipulating the game with third-party software, offenders claim. Instead of banning the players, though, developer Niantic is just making the game slightly worse for them.
Players who are caught using third-party software to find rare Pokémon in Pokémon Go are not seeing the same kind of Pokémon that regular players are seeing, Pokémon Go Hub reported earlier this week. Ironically, the players using third-party software say they’re only seeing boring, common Pokémon, no rare Pokémon.
Here’s a photo example that Pokémon Go Hub shared. The left screen, an account flagged for manipulating the game, only shows a Geodude, while the normal account on the right shows three additional (and rarer) Pokémon in the same location.
The offending programs that could get an account flagged are called mappers and trackers. They augment the Pokémon Go app with extra information, showing players where certain Pokémon are likely to spawn and removing some of the mystery from the game.
This is an interesting way for Niantic to deter cheaters. Instead of outright banning players, Niantic is encouraging them to stop cheating and play the game as intended. The method they’re using is called shadowbanning.
According to one Reddit user, players who are flagged for cheating also receive this message, just in case they don’t realize that the game isn’t as good as it used to be.