Pokemon Go GPS Spoofing Is Serious Cheating Problem

After release in Australia, the U.S., Canada and most of Europe, Pokemon Go is finally available in its home country of Japan. But according to reports, right from the get go, Pokemon gyms in the land of the rising sun were immediately conquered by Chinese players using hacks to fool Pokemon Go’s GPS tracking.

Cheating in Pokemon Go makes Pikachu sad.

Cheating in Pokemon Go makes Pikachu sad.

The technique is called GPS spoofing, and it allows players to trick the game into thinking they are somewhere they actually aren’t, which in a game that revolves around physically traveling to specific locations, is an offense of the highest order.

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A screenshot from a user from Chinese blogging site Weibo showing a CP 2417 Dragonite at Yasukuni Shrine in Japan. Note the directional arrows in the bottom left for controlling the players location using GPS spoofing.

A screenshot from a user from Chinese blogging site Weibo showing a CP 2417 Dragonite at Yasukuni Shrine in Japan. Note the directional arrows in the bottom left for controlling the players location using GPS spoofing.

Furthermore, many of the spoofed Pokemon stationed in these gyms are significantly stronger than anything new players can get. Some Chinese hackers are even taking shots at Japan by claiming gyms at historic landmarks such as Yasukuni Shrine with Pokemon featuring nicknames than translate into phrases like “Long Live China.”

GPS spoofing isn’t limited to just the East. A quick glance at the Pokemon GO channel on Twitch shows a number of streamers walking around and catching Pokemon without ever getting up from their desks.  

In the past, Pokemon Go developer Niantic Labs has banned players of Ingress -- one if its previous augmented reality games -- for GPS spoofing, but it remains unclear how the developers plan to deal with this hack now that it’s taking place on a much larger scale.

However, if you do see someone on Twitch who is obviously spoofing, you can report them to Twitch, who should take down the channel for violating Pokemon Go'sterms of service.

Lead image credit goes to Kiro-Tiger on Deviant Art.