(Credit: Niantic)

If there's anything we've learned from online games, it's that a lot of people have no qualms about cheating their way to the top. In Pokemon Go, you wander about the physical world to collect creatures and pit them against each other, which invites hacks that fake your location and bots that pretend to be you.

Pokemon Go's developer Niantic used to have a zero-tolerance policy against these cheaters, but it's decided to be a little kinder and gentler these days with a three-strikes rule. And now it's taken the unusual step of detailing the rules for how its strikes and account terminations work.

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The first time that Niantic detects you faking your location or using bots, you'll get a warning within the app. This will put your account on probation for 7 days, during which time you may not be able to encounter rare creatures, and you may not be able to receive new EX Raid Passes. The conditional language feels designed to instill a feeling of uncertainty. If you go 7 days without any further infractions, your account goes back to normal.

If you're caught a second time, things get more serious. Your account is banned outright for 30 days. You won't be able to log into the app or bypass the ban message that pops up when you open it.

If you're caught a third time, then your account is banned permanently. Niantic has an official system for appealing a ban, but it says that "due to the high level of accuracy in our detection systems, very few terminations are ever overturned."

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Also note that you may not be given three strikes to begin with, if Niantic decides that your activities are particularly bad. The company says, "Some misbehaviors may result in immediate account termination without prior warning."

And its three-strikes system is specifically for cheaters, so you can still get permanently banned right away for other violations of Niantic's terms of service, such as attempting to hack the app itself, attempting to advertise within it, or being abusive to other players.

The takeaways

  1. Niantic has laid out how its three-strikes ban policy works for people who are caught cheating.
  2. Niantic notes that still reserves the right to forgo strikes and ban an account immediately, if it thinks it's warranted.

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Tom is the senior editor covering Windows at Download.com.