A few hours ago, Niantic opened the communication flood gates in a surprising flurry of social and official posts. Their official Twitter first stated that they are aware of gym issues and that they’re working to resolve them. The resolution came fast, in a less than two hours.

Afterwards, Niantic CEO John Hanke (“jh” abbreviated) wrote a lengthy post on Pokemon GO Official blog in regards to bans, mistakes and process behind the bans.

Gym Problems and Resolution

Several players reported issues with Gym battles and interaction, with problems ranging from inability to interact to being stuck inside a Gym. Niantic responded with the following tweet:

Interesting as it may be, it’s a rare occasion for Niantic to admit an issue and announce so clearly that a fix is in the works. The fix arrived mere hours after this tweet and players responded positively on Twitter and reddit.

It is surprising and great at the same time to see Niantic warming up to the idea of doing Customer Support via Twitter. Companies like Blizzard Entertainment, Valve and others have been using this direct and simple communication method for years already.

Official statement on Pokemon GO Bot bans and ban mistakes

John Hanke explained the logic behind the recent ban wave, but mostly addressed the methods they used to flag suspicious accounts. It turns out that using any map/tracker tool that requires you to log in can and will result in a perma ban.

It seems Niantic is quite reluctant to let any scrapers or mappers use their server backend as a polygon for testing. In their own words:

“These apps can have an effect similar to DDoS attacks on our servers. Because of this we have had to ban some accounts associated with using these add-on map tools, leading to confusion by some users about why they were banned. This is a small subset of the accounts banned.”

We are delighted to see JH speak so directly and clearly. The entire statement is in the continuation of this article.

“We continue to work to ensure the integrity of the game and the health of our servers by blocking unauthorized access and at times by banning offending accounts. This includes blocking bots, data scraping operations, and banning end user accounts associated with those activities. Some players may not have realized that some add-on map apps do more than just show you nearby Pokémon. Each end-user app can be used as a collection tool by the app creator, invisibly collecting and forwarding data to the app creator with or without the knowledge of the end user. These apps can have an effect similar to DDoS attacks on our servers. Because of this we have had to ban some accounts associated with using these add-on map tools, leading to confusion by some users about why they were banned. This is a small subset of the accounts banned.

As a result of some changes made to our infrastructure, we are now able to unban this set of accounts. Add-on maps which scrape data from our servers still violate our Terms of Service and use of them may still result in an account ban going forward. Accounts whose sole purpose was to scrape data are not being unbanned. Accounts which used apps or websites to remotely capture Pokémon, battle or deploy on Gyms, or harvest resources from PokéStops are also not being unbanned. Our main priority is to provide a fair, fun, and legitimate experience for all players, so, aggressive banning will continue to occur for players who engage in these kinds of activities.

jh