In 2017, GPS Spoofing is the real bane of Pokémon GO

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over the past few months, we’ve received a fair share of questions, reports, angry e-mails and screenshots from angry readers who got frustrated by the state of the game in their Area. These reports claimed GPS spoofers were dominating cities and gyms and honestly we gave little attention to these reports at the time – we were suspicious in their truthfulness.

However, after experiencing a number of similar incidents in our own region, we decided to take a look for ourselves and see how difficult is it to actually use GPS spoofing in Pokémon GO.

Spoofed in 90 seconds

When we first approached this idea, we expected that the entire process is going to be difficult, technically demanding and cumbersome. We expected the following to happen:

  • our Android phones should probably be rooted
  • there’s going to be problems with the apps spoofers use (we expected low production quality)
  • surely, we’ll get banned or soft-banned in a matter of hours

Shockingly, none of listed problems happened.

It took us around 90 second to setup and successfully start using GPS spoofing on Android:

  • The apps were publicly accessible, hosted on Google Play Store
  • we had almost zero issues with them
  • none of our Android (6) devices were rooted
  • two days after, no one in our test group is banned or was soft-banned at any moment

But it get’s even worse.

Couch Generals

In the first couple of hours of spoofing we had the first frightening realisation. It became apparent that GPS spoofing on Android is not only easy, it’s also the prefered way to play for the majority of high level players in our area.

To test this hypothesis, we decided to contest a Level 10 Mystic Gym that’s know to be controlled by spoofers. The gym is located by the beach, there’s no buildings or cars for at least 500 meters in every direction, so spotting Pokémon GO players or anyone for that matter, is very easy.

Our group spread across the area, making sure to stay in range of the Gym. It took us a while, but eventually we got it down and prestiged it to Level 5 (Valor).

45 minutes later, the Gym was back in control of Team Mystic and it was Level 8. No one came. No cars, no people, not even cats. No one was playing Pokémon GO on the beach but us.

And yet, the Gym was back in their hands.

It takes two to tango

GPS spoofing is everywhere, but it’s hard to blame the solely the players. The tools to spoof our out there, they are simple and easy. They are even hosted on your platform’s App Store.

Niantic MUST step up and introduce mechanisms for early detection and punishment of spoofers. Player reports and eventual bans are almost completely ineffective, as the spoofers can advance at a pace that is incredibly fast and impossible for others.

Prevention is the key here. If the damage is already done, regular paying customers will leave the game and they have every right to do so. Why would they invest their time and money in a game dominated by cheaters?

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Zeroghan started the Hub in July 2016 and hasn't had much sleep since. A lover of all things Pokémon, web development, and writing.

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