New ‘Pokemon GO’ Update Cracks Down On Hackers

Pokemon GO updates haven’t always gone down well with gamers, but that might change with the latest such update from Niantic Labs, which hopes to get rid of a wider range of hackers who have gotten ahead in the game through illegal means.

Since its release in July, Pokemon GO has gotten its fair share of updates, and a lot of them were seemingly rolled out for one primary reason – to make the game more challenging, much to the chagrin of a lot of gamers. One notorious example happened when Niantic dropped three-step tracking for “Sightings,” which many gamers found inconvenient. Players who farmed for kilometers to hatch their eggs by playing the game while driving or riding in a vehicle began to get notifications that they’re “going too fast,” nullifying whatever mileage they had accrued between starting the game and getting the warning. Those 10km eggs that often contain rare Pokemon became increasingly hard to find at PokeStops. Then there was the time when Niantic shut down PokeVision and other third-party tracking services that made it easier for players to find Pokemon and add to their collections or evolve/power-up existing characters.

To be fair, some of Niantic’s Pokemon GO updates were rolled out in an effort to combat actual cheaters, especially those who use GPS-spoofing tools to find rare Pokemon or play the game without having to leave home. But while the company has indeed been dogged in its determination to ban all types of cheaters, there have been a lot of players using rooted devices to circumvent Niantic’s anti-cheating protocols. That’s bound to change, however, with Niantic’s new update, which rolled out Sunday and is now available for both Android and iOS users.

Although Niantic doesn’t mention it in its list of changes found on version 0.39, one of the key changes is the use of the Safety Net system, which effectively prevents anyone using a rooted or modded device from playing Pokemon GO. According to a report from SlashGear, anyone using an older version of the game will still be able to walk, but won’t be able to hatch eggs or earn candy unless they update to the new version. Players using “automatic” systems will be flagged by the system if they keep on playing on older versions, and if that isn’t enough to warn hackers, SlashGear‘s source added that Niantic will “soon” be slapping bans on anyone who still refuses to update despite being flagged.

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While there may be some hackers resourceful enough to get around this new anti-cheating measure, Niantic looks to be way ahead of them. SlashGear further explains that the update allows Niantic to roll out new protocols to outsmart anyone who comes up with a new workaround against these measures. If all goes well, this could mean the end of heading to your nearest gym, only to find out that it’s occupied by a trainer whose Gyarados or Dragonite has twice the CP of your strongest Pokemon.

In addition to the heightened anti-hacker protocols, Niantic also appears to have changed spawning nests on the new update. According to Forbes, the changes seem to be completely randomized, which means players may see a Diglett spawning where Eevee used to appear with regularity, or a Squirtle showing up where Pinsir used to be commonplace. Rarity, however, is just the same as it used to be, so if you’ve had it up to here with those ubiquitous Rattata and Pidgey sightings, these ultra-common characters will still be commonplace despite the new update. This may be another gamer-friendly move for Pokemon GO players, and a potentially great way for players to quickly fill in the blanks on their Pokedex.

[Featured Image by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images]