'Pokemon Go' Automated Bots Make Cheating Really, Really Easy

Cheat-bots will play Niantic's AR app for you.

Getty Images / Mike Coppola

Never underestimate human ingenuity. Just a few weeks into a post-Pokémon Go world, programmers have already figured out how to cheat their way through the new universe of Nintendo and Niantic’s augmented-reality app.

A small but clearly lucrative industry has begun around automated bots specifically engineered to auto-play Pokémon Go — in other words, you download a program that plays the game for you, while you go about your day and come back to find masses of new Pokémon. The bots enable speedy progress with minimal effort or participation – because who wants to go outside, anyway?

Thus far, the leading Pokémon Go bots are Necrobot, led by NecronomiconCoding based in Germany, PokéBuddy, and MyGOBot, which claims to be “the most advanced and up to date Pokémon Go bot on the market” and is “designed to run on your computer like any [sic] other application would.”

Regardless of the bot you choose, their primary function is to automate progress by spoofing the GPS coordinates to the game’s servers. According to Ars Technica, users provide “a latitude and longitude as a starting point … and some Pokémon Go account credentials to authenticate the servers. The bot then finds any nearby Pokémon … and simulates a “walk” to the nearest one … When the bot gets close enough to a Pokémon, it can use a simple API call to quickly catch it before moving on to the next target.”

Look at all these sights you don't have to see if you use a cheat bot!

Getty Images / Mike Coppola

Basically, you stay in one place, doing nothing, while a computer hijacks your phone and flawlessly catches Pokémon expediently. One Reddit user by the name Problemz just managed to be the first in the world (according to them) to hit the game’s maximum Level 40, using a bot to get there.

These bots also take up the effort to incubate eggs, collect items like Pokéballs at Pokéstops, and even transfer and level up Pokémon for you. More sophisticated bots can discriminate which Pokémon to send to Professor Willow and which to keep based on stats. In essence, the game is played for you almost entirely. So there’s no need to perfect your Pokéball curve or bothering to name your Eevees. Bots do it all for you.

Pokémon Go bots blow the game’s ecosystem wide open to possibilities, but not necessarily for the better. While automation might sound attractive to players restricted by daily routines or living in remote areas, the game’s balance can be drastically thrown off, forcing Niantic to update the app in ways it didn’t anticipate. These bots are also in violation of the app’s Terms of Use, with some bot users reporting “soft bans” (though Ars Technica says most of those are from easy-to-spot GPS spoofs, like teleporting from New York to Sydney in seconds). It’s unclear exactly what measures Niantic will take to handle violating users.

In tests run by Ars Technica, one of the Pokémon Go bots was able to progress their game at such a pace it reached Level 15 in one afternoon. It took me two weeks to get to Level 16, but at least I got some fresh air and made some friends along the way.

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