While some of us are still struggling over how to actually train Pokémon at a nearby gym, there are other players who have discovered an exploit within Pokémon Go that allows them to capture a gym indefinitely. They’re accomplishing this by using eggs, which are only intended to hatch Pokémon within the game, not to be used in an actual fight.
Because eggs have no Combat Points, they can’t be attacked. An individual or team claiming a gym using eggs can thus collect coins indefinitely. That saves them from having to shell out between $1 for 100 coins and $100 for 14,500 coins. This virtual currency can be used to purchase in-game items like lure modules, storage upgrades, lucky eggs, incense, and Poké Balls. As a result, hackers can essentially use 1,250 “free” coins to purchase 25 lucky eggs, which in turn could be used to seize other gyms. This process could become a huge problem for everyone if the issue begins to spread like a virus, preventing Pokémon trainers from playing the game as intended, and blocking revenue from Nintendo and Niantic.
“Exploiting this kind of thing only makes it a high priority bug for Niantic, which means they have to divert the programmers to fixing it instead of giving us new features,” one Reddit user points out. “At the rate we’re going, we’re not going to get any actual changes to the game for another six months, because all they’re doing is putting out the fires.”
Some of the areas reportedly held hostage by hackers include gyms located throughout New York City, Buckingham Palace in London, and even the gym located in front of London’s Big Ben.
Niantic recently began banning players for cheating through emulation software and other third-party tools, stating that it would shut any account “taking unfair advantage of and abusing Pokémon Go.” This policy fits with the game’s updated terms of service, which explicitly bans third-party software from being used in the game, as well as falsifying a user’s location to gain an unfair advantage.
Players accused of cheating can submit a ban appeal using this form. Other issues gamers can complain about include those related to a gym or PokéStop, inappropriate gameplay, bugs in the game itself, problems with signing into an account or deleting an account, and more.
“Our goal is to provide a fair, fun, and legitimate game experience for everyone,” Niantic states. “We will continue to work with all of you to improve the quality of the gameplay, including ongoing optimization and fine tuning of our anticheat system.”
Niantic recently began sending out legal warnings to developers of bots, tools that will play Pokémon Go for the user on a 24/7 basis and trick the in-game tracking system so that the user looks like he/she is actually out and about hunting down Pokémon. One of the bot developers in question is NecroBot, which has pulled all files due to the legal actions served up to other bot creators. At its peak, this bot had more than 100,000 members and 500,000 downloads each day.
With the current problem using eggs to seize gyms, Niantic will undoubtedly dish out a new update soon to fix the issue.
Updated on 08-19-2016 by Gabe Gurwin: Updated with information on Niantic’s official statement on banning cheating players.