It’s been almost a year since Pokémon GO fever swept the world. While the pandemonium to catch surprise Dragonites has cooled, developer studio Niantic rolled out some new long-awaited features, such as the team-based Raid Battle feature. But to ensure an even playing field among its user base, Niantic announced on Reddit that it will be punishing cheaters with a mark of shame, Nathaniel Hawthorne style, and misbehaving Pokémon.
On Wednesday, Niantic (through an official support account) posted on Reddit’s r/TheSilphRoad, an “in-person network of Pokémon GO enthusiasts,” an announcement of what’s to come for Pokemon GO users who have used extra-normal software to play the game. In short, cheaters who used manipulative software to catch and level up Pokémon will have their Pokémon marked with a red slash, and will not “behave as expected.” Niantic isn’t being clear what this means exactly, but fans are guessing it means marked Pokémon will not function properly during intense gym battles.
Niantic’s official statement reads:
“With the announcement of Raid Battles and the new battle features, we are staying true on our commitment to ensuring that Pokémon GO continues to be a fun and fair experience for all Trainers. Starting today, Pokémon caught using third-party services that circumvent normal gameplay will appear marked with a slash in the inventory and may not behave as expected. We are humbled by the excitement for all the new features we announced yesterday. This is one small part of our continued commitment to maintaining the integrity of our community and delivering an amazing Pokémon GO experience.”
Cheating became a big problem for Pokémon GO early into the game’s lifespan, though some argued third-party software that altered the game was the only way users in sparsely-populated rural areas could play.
The update has rolled out within the last 24 hours, but users on Twitter are already sharing what Niantic’s punishment looks like.
Players have also found that the slash goes away upon evolution, which seems like either an oversight or surprising leniency on Niantic’s part. However, slashed Pokémon will not give trainers candy if given to the Professor, which seems fair.