History of spoofing over the last 12 months

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Written by JoshHack, a GO Hub forum member | source linkBe aware that GO Hub’s official stance is strictly against spoofing and botting — we don’t promote cheating or ToS infringement in any shape or form. All opinions expressed here are author’s opinions, not official GO Hub stance. We decided to publish this article as it tells a very interesting story and we haven’t came across anything similar on the Internet.The purpose of this article is merely to express the opinions and truth, but also recap about the entire history of Pokémon GO spoofing / botting community. To my knowledge, no similar article was written anywhere to date.

I will talk about the pro’s and cons, it’s origins and if it is as big as a problem as many make it out to be. I will try to be as unbiased as I can, to give you the full run-down of everything that has happened over the last year.

Game release and the beginning of cheating

On July 6th, 2016 a game was released and it sparked a worldwide obsession making over 100 million people run outside for a game. That game was Pokémon Go.

In order to get the game out on time some short-cuts may have been taken by Niantic, the developers of both Pokémon Go and Ingress (more on Ingress later).

These short-cuts and the fact that Niantic wasn’t ready for such huge numbers resulted in numerous issues with servers and a general lack of content. Ultimately, this did push many players away.

TuTu App (click for large version)

Soon after launch, an app downloading platform called TuTuApp (known for releasing hacked versions of games) saw a niche in the game. The game Wasn’t built to stop any 3rd party software from coming online and altering things in the game. This meant that when software like this was released, it became a very popular tool to use.

Youtube Clickbait and the rise of cheating

After roughly 48 hours of the game’s release, a group of 4 YouTubers realised they could make a lot of money by using these apps and using titles like “OMG! SUPER RARE SHINY EGG HATCH POKEMON GO!” and “NEW BEST POKÉMON GO HACK!”

This tactic did work remarkably well, raking in millions of views for people who used it.

Even regular, legitimate, Pokémon Go YouTubers like Ali-A and Mystic7 did a bit of clickbaiting in order to get some views, however, they didn’t use the app, just the images that other app users posted. In all fairness, they were just “normal businessmen” trying to earn some views.

Thumbnail of Ali-A video titled “Pokemon GO – LEGENDARIES FROM 100km EGGS? (ARE THEY REAL)”

The main issue wasn’t really the clickbaiting (though it was still a problem), the problem was the promotion of spoofing and botting.

Youtubers used bots to spawn Pokémon like MewTwo and other tools to show and appeal to their fanbase. In addition, they taught their viewers how to gain access to the apps and the art of utilising them.

Ultimately, this led to a new problem: spoofers and Gym takeover.

Spoofers and Gym Takeover

After about a week of playing, people realised how valuable PokeCoins (the in-game currency) were in order to advance. However, the only way to procure them in the game was through the gym system.

For every 21 hours your Pokémon was in a gym you would get 500 stardust and 10 PokeCoins. This would go up until you had 10 Pokémon in gyms, for which you would get 5000 stardust and 100 PokeCoins every 21 hours.

This caused the main problem people had with Spoofers, kicking their Pokémon out of gyms and putting up their own instead. They could quickly get back to a gym to reclaim it if taken from them.

The following video clearly illustrates how Spoofers operated during that era:

Botters used similar things, but their software would automatically fill the gyms up again. So, if one of their gyms got taken it would be theirs again in about one minute.

They used techniques like the BubbleStrat to make this go quicker. The Strategy would involve putting exceptionally weak Pokémon in a gym and using weaker ones to take them down. This would maximise prestige gains and get a gym to level 10 in under 10 minutes (the BubbleStrat has been since removed from the game).

All of this pushed many players away from the gym system all together, as high level snipers were too strong to stop forever.

Sniping And Powerhouse Pokémon

As part of Pokémon Go, you need to get your hands on rare Pokémon like Dragonite, Snorlax, Tyranitar and others.

Spoofers used a method of teleportation called sniping to catch 100’s of rare Pokémon a day. You would need to teleport to the Pokémon, click on it to enter the capture screen, then teleport back to your initial location. Sniping was so popular dedicated websites like PokeSniper and PokeZz gave an endless list of coordinates to any Pokémon you could dream of.

In order to combat this, Niantic implemented a Soft-Ban system for changing locations to quickly. You would be unable to catch anything or spin any PokeStops for up to 4 hours.

The system had some flaws. For starters you couldn’t get banned for sniping because, if you went back to your original location while on the capture screen the game believed you hadn’t moved. Also, you could un-ban yourself by doing the 40 glitch. All you needed to do was spin a PokeStop 40 times and you would no longer be banned.

In early April the 40 glitch was removed and sniping was stopped, but not entirely. In order to snipe now you need to wait a great distance between jumps (2-3 hours). This still didn’t change the fact that people had legions of Pokémon, but it was a start.

GoFest And Anti-Spoofing Measures

In the middle of May, Niantic announced their first big Pokémon Go event: Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago, Illinois. Due to all the publicity many assumed there would be extreme anti-cheating methods in place.

This system was a one time use QR code system. It did work relatively well, but it was still easy to get your hands on them as Go Fest attendees were giving them out on livestream the whole day.

To round of the day, you didn’t even need QR codes to gain access to the well publicised legendaries raids. This, along with constant network issues, is why many consider GoFest to be a failure.

Pokemon GO Legendary Raids
Legendary Raids were suddenly not a GO Fest exclusive anymore

Why People Spoof

There are a few arguments for spoofing to be laid out for you.

  1. Rural players with little to no Pokémon get next to nothing, and do it to be equal.
  2. Those who are injured and ill deserve to play the game as well.
  3. The game is not a competition game (like Dota with numerous tournaments) so it does no real harm.

Why people are against it

  1. It’s against the TOS (terms of service).
  2. It’s called Pokémon Go,not Pokémon sit still.
  3. They want their gym coins.

Overall, until Niantic start to focus on these apps people will continue to use them. I would not recommend using them, but it’s all up to you.

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  1. Would like to say thanks to GoHub for changing some of the wording and adding most of the pictures and videos, it looks and sounds a lot better now.

  2. I think you are missing a key to the GoFest puzzle. GoFest QR codes were one-time use. Anyone that attended the event and posted a QR code meant that either they were giving up their access to the event for 1 online person or they were publishing a QR code that didn’t work because they had already used it themselves.

  3. “It’s against the TOS”…That alone is all the reason to NOT spoof. When you download the game, you have to AGREE to the terms to play. If you break the agreement, you do not under any circumstance deserve to play the game. You being able to play the game is a privilege, not a right to be abused by hacking and cheating. Niantic should really step up their bans to stop this blight upon this awesome game. You may say, “Well, if you’re disabled, it’s OK for you to spoof” But think of it this way: If you’re legally blind, you can’t drive. Now other drivers and the government don’t hate you for being blind, you just simply can’t drive, or you’ll be a danger to others and yourself. Same thing for spoofing. If you can’t physically get up and GO to play the game, then just find another fun game. It’s just not for you. Same goes for rural players. No excuse is worth cheating for.

  4. I’m against it for another reason:
    4. I hate when people brag about their rare/strong Pokemon (or their level, people also spoof to reach level 40 faster/easier) that caught with less to no effort. I run around a lot of hours a day to have good Pokemon (and I like this, it’s how the game is supposed to be played) and there were people with legions of Tyranitar on the second day of Gen2…

      • Oh shure, envy for idiots like u who sit on the couch hacking while we who have lives actually go out and have fun playing. We totally envy 2020 tyranitars that you hacked to get while we played for weeks trying to scrounge up enough larvitar candy. Really, spoofers are the people who are too lazy to walk around and play.

        • Really, I just wish spoofers would not play at all, and actually go out side. #PokemonGonotPokemonsitstill

        • Go back to school may be there will teach u some manners. U cant prove im spoofer, btw u literally know nothing about me, how i play or do i play or not and still u are full of hatred against people do know nothing about. Or u are from those sort of dummies who hate everyone who says something u dont like cause your huge ego cant stand someone that has another judjment ? Well how sad about u.
          I saw tyranitars on 2nd day after patch and so what ? There are lots of water type pokemon that easy crush them, so it wasnt even a problem to me. But being full of envy cant even think about it. So as i said go back to school.

          • Ok,
            1. Look at the rudeness and unkindness of your last comments, and think about who should learn some manners. Go take etiquette classes every summer, then go up to me and talk about manners. Unbelievable, just unbelievable!
            2. The reason I’m calling you out is because the way your comments make u look like a hacker as well as:
            3. Who sees two tyranitars on their nearby in one day? Not even Santa Monica has that much luck.
            4. Ice types, not water types noob
            5. I have a big ego? man, you should know people I know, then you can speak about that. And the reason i hate hackers is that they ruin the game for others. Only time I’m even close to thinking its okay is when there helping at raids in rural areas, becuz players there almost never have a chance.
            6. The only people I envy are those who are actually important, unlike you.
            Finally, don’t you even try keeping this up, because I’m having a bad day. And you do NOT WANT TO CHALLENGE ME WHEN I HAVE A BAD DAY.

        • Yes. Your comments have envy written all over them. If you were complaining about spoofers kicking you out of gyms two minutes after you take a gym down then you’d have a point but you’re complaining that people have better pokemon than you while putting in less effort. That’s called envy.

      • It’s not so much envy as it is disgust/disapproval. He doesn’t want what they have – he’s upset that they have it. I’m sure he’d rather earn it himself. There’s a nuance you’re adding to his statement when it’s not there.

        • While I’m not an apologist for spoofers, I have to say that I don’t understand this “disgust/disapproval” position. If people cheat while playing Solitaire, or card patience, or anything that doesn’t affect other people – why would anyone care?

          As far as I can see, spoofers are only a problem if they adversely affect the gameplay of other people. If they’re not doing that, then they’re effectively playing Solitaire and there’s no reason to change the game to stop them playing it however they like.

          • I say it’s because others who see these spoofers want them tvo stop because
            1. The reasons in the article
            2. They are jealous
            3. They want a fair game for all.

  5. for me the only thing that i hate is spoofing. forget adding new content all spoofing needs to be stopped. i live in the suburbs theres not many pokestops and gyms but when i go out to places i just like the idea of playing a game while im out like at the airport or shopping. its the joy of pokemon go. the experiences.

    sitting around all day getting the best pokemon knowing ur doing no effort. its just sad and actually boring no fun. i dont see why people spoof u may get great mons but theres just no fun so whats the point in playing.

    i actually compare them to team rocket they use pokemon in evil purposes and that fsuatl who is the main promotor of spoofer is giovanni.

    these spoofers could have a different game pokemon sit lol or just have there own team (rocket). or niantic could just remove it.

  6. Saying why people are against it and not mentioning that people are against it because they are playing fairly, while spoofers and bots are cheating is a disservice to the game and trainers.

    Your attempt at lack of bias is absurd. You tried to blame YouTube, you tried to blame the game and/or Niantic. Try blaming those who will cheat, those who don’t care about fair competition and those who taunt and mock others for having an ethics system in their game play.

    Shame on you Pokemongohub. I know you don’t approve this message, but it’s poorly written, defensive and, honestly, shameful.

  7. This article was rather interesting to see on the goHub; Didn’t learn anything new though 😉 I’m not anti spoofing, the problem is trackers and bots. Without those, people who spoof don’t automatically get awesome mons; they still have to find them. My wee village has a handful of stops and a couple of gyms, seemed okay, til I played in London… I completely understand the attraction of spoofing. In the real games, there were no pokemon in towns, they were were outside. You got items from towns; mons from the countryside, in the long grass. It should be more like that, get items from population centres and mons more in the the country. I’m not saying no mons in cities, but I’ve been on long walks with me mates and come across jack all sometimes. You didn’t find dratinis walking around celadon city

    I believe Niantic’s reluctance to stop spoofing comes from China, weirdly. I’m only a small time developer so maybe I’m mistaken, but I have a couple of ideas to stop ’em all. But because PoGO is banned in China, their only choice is spoofing, and that’s a biiiiig market that I’d guess they don’t want to cut off. I saw an article about a guy visiting Taiyuan, and mons gyms and stops started appearing but only briefly. Some people speculated it could be a test in preparation for a proper release; if that’s true, then Niantic no longer has a reason to go easy on spoofers… And also I would say it’s a bit cruel to tell disabled people they can’t play because they can’t go out…

    Sorry about the essay! Almost as long as the article itself…

  8. I am not a fan or supporter of spoofing, normally. That said, I recently tried it (and quickly abandoned spoofing my GPS location) for the following reason (or justification, if you oppose my viewpoint:

    I don’t like the fact that Niantic has given me a Pokedex that is virtually impossible to fill, unless I travel the world. In the US, I can’t get Mr. Mime, Kangaskhan, Far Fetch’d, etc. Ultimately, I feel they should not be included in my ‘dex, or at the least Niantic could “free” them as an ultra-low chance via eggs, unique holiday sightings, or something that at least lets me know that with moderate effort and/or a bit of luck, they could be mine.

    Putting them in my Pokedex but then making them n/a in my area just feels wrong to me.

    • Patience. I have no way to know for sure but it seems entirely reasonable to expect some sort of future event that will allow you to catch them.

      No point in cheating to win in a game you play by yourself. It’s like cheating in solitaire…

    • your local car dealer probably also has some cars available that you cant afford. Are you mad at them for offering those? Or your school for not giving you the chance to get the highest grades and diplomas?

      You cant always get what you want. Doesnt mean you should go arround stealing stuff, or cheating your way towards it. We all have the same problem. If everyone would cheat then no one would be able to get anything done.

      • But it’s just an arbitrary barrier. What you’re describing is (in order) supply and demand or merit based, neither of which would apply to the game. The region system earns them no resource (only encourages exploitation.) With nothing in it for Niantic it begs the question: how does it serve them? It’s bad game design really and certainly nothing to defend.

        • Agreed. I never understood the gain from locking region exclusives. It’s not like they have some deal with airlines where people are flying overseas just for Pokémon and they’re getting a percentage of airfare profits. The only reason I could see is they’re hoping people will keep playing hoping for the day they rotate them or do an event like go fest where you can get one. Still stupid either way.

        • Good point. They only things i can come up with is because youre supposed to go out and get them, even if that means traveling.. pretty far. The other reason is its in the spirit of the main games. You could never catch all pokemon in 1 game, you had to have both version, for each generation.

    • u have it wrong, without spoofers Pokemon Go is dead. thats bc their is so many of them and personally i dont mind themm after the new gym rework including raids bc they help alot!

        • That’s exactly right. They will never stop spoofers. They should focus more on making the game mechanics work in a way that spoofers don’t negatively affect legitimate players gameplay, and they have done that to an extent with the new gym rework but they still have a way to go before they fix all the flaws in their game.

  9. I did it guys!! I predicted it.. a few months ago i had a dream, the new gym rework came out and it was team pvp which is somewhat similar. And i had another dream 1 part is somewhat real and the other one 50/50. the dream was about myself watching a trailer, it was the new capture rate of raids being 6.5% which is my 50/50 guess real/fake, BUT based on my dream it is confirmed the next huge quarterly update is 100% confirmed by my dream TRADING !! this means in the next month or so expect a trailer for trading!!

  10. The gym rework gave chance to regular players to get their coin slots from spoofers.
    Raids, remote feeding, one specie per gym etc. are great changes.

  11. As long as Niantic depends on GPS, there will always be spoofers. Play your own games your way and mind your own business. This is not a PVP game, yet. If they allowed PVP, spoofers will have the edge which is why PVP won’t happen.

    • Well, there’s still the fact that rapid movement between locations exposes spoofing. If the game design was changed significantly so that rapid movement couldn’t be exploited in the gameplay, then spoofing would be defeated. I’m trying to write a game along those lines atm.

      • They would need to start by fixing their GPS code so GPS bugs and outages won’t look like rapid movements. Like, going through tunnel will look like you teleported when the GPS reappears on other side … or, you can switch from pokemon to other app (map, email, discord …) and then back, while still walking.

        … alternatively, they can only disallow rapid movement over bigger distances.

        • It’s not GPS bugs that causes this. On the iPhone at least, you can compromise on the way you access the GPS in order to save battery power. It’s quite clear that they’re doing this in pogo, and that’s probably a good thing.

          You can tell that going through a tunnel isn’t teleporting because of the time difference between when you lost the signal at one end, and then got it back again at the other.

  12. I don’t care about the cheaters. They ruin their fun, it’s OK. But they cross my fun, that’s bullsh*t

    They catch many poks, they catch many legs, they got many coins, they have got many top poks to pose. Yeah, it’s alright, cheer, let me hug you. But when they beat my pok defend the gym to earn some coins, the sh*t hit the fan !

  13. Spoofers are NOT the problem of the game. And I don’t really understand people with their logic, when they blame spoofers.
    Guys, are you blind?

  14. Spoofing bugs me because I’m sure its the main reason trading isn’t in the game yet. Pogo is trying to create an in game economy but its impossible to assign any value to a Pokemon if anyone can just cheat to get any Pokemon they want.

    Also it’s not a single player game, everyone who cheats has a “its just a game attitude”. I’ve never spoofed, botted or used a scanner. I’ve walked over 2800 km, caught over 44,000 Pokemon, and hatched over 1700 eggs. I would hope the time and effort I put I to the game would give me an advantage over players that arn’t t as committed.

    However someone who cheats could easily have collected more and better Pokemon in a fraction of the time.

    • If spoofing is the reason trading isn’t in the game then trading will never be in the game because they will never be able to stop spoofers. Many forms of GPS location spoofing aren’t detectable. They make your device think it’s in a different location before the game even enters the picture.

  15. Actually Niantic could have stopped most of the spoofing with one little
    thing, totally randomizing the spawns. Spoof farming would be way

  16. “…we don’t promote cheating or ToS infringement in any shape or form”

    Of course you do. Data mining is against the TOS. You report results from data mining all the time.

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