Pokemon Go developer Niantic is suing hackers that are helping players cheat at the game. The company has filed a lawsuit against Global++, an association of hackers that Niantic alleges makes and distributes “unauthorized derivative versions” of apps, including Pokemon Go. The mega-popular smartphone game was launched in 2016.
Niantic claims that those app versions infringe on its intellectual property rights and give users an unfair advantage. Niantic wrote: “Among other things, defendants’ schemes undermine the integrity of the gaming experience for legitimate players, diminishing enthusiasm for Niantic’s games and, in some cases, driving players away from Niantic’s games altogether. Defendants’ schemes therefore damage Niantic’s reputation and goodwill and interfere with Niantic’s business.”
Alleged members of Global++ are also named as defendants in the suit. Ryan “ElliotRobot” Hunt is described by Niantic as the “leader” of the group and the “principal developer” of the unauthorized apps. Alen “iOS n00b” Hundur is alleged to help develop the apps and promote them on a YouTube channel. Twenty members of Global++ who couldn’t be personally identified are listed in the lawsuit as “Doe defendants”.
The company has also accused the group of selling subscriptions to their app versions “reaping massive profits”. Niantic is seeking a preliminary injunction to immediately stop Global++ and its members from distributing the apps and stop any work on reverse engineering the code to its games.
Niantic has had to work hard to stay one step ahead of cheaters. There is a surprisingly sophisticated array of tools available to get around the rules. Some hackers have found a way to trick the game into automatically walking in circles to hatch Pokemon eggs. Other cheats allow players to spot exactly where rare monsters are hiding. There is even a way to spoof a GPS location so players can trick the game into thinking they’re halfway around the world.