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Nobody likes a cheater, and that includes Niantic, the developer behind the hugely popular Pokemon Go. In fact, they've recently taken action against cheaters, updating the game so that any illegally caught Pokemon will be rendered useless.
As part of our commitment to fun and fair gameplay in Pokémon GO, we're continuing to take action against users who use third-party services that circumvent normal gameplay and violate our TOS. Pokémon caught using these services will appear slashed and not behave as expected.
Niantic made the above statement on Twitter yesterday, letting everyone know that they are finally taking action to prevent cheaters from ruining the game.
In Pokemon Go, you can capture new critters and collect new items simply by walking around and taking part in the game's simple mechanics. Unfortunately, some third party sites have popped up that allow players to snag rare Pokemon or even "walk around" to play the game without ever leaving the house. In short, folks are able to fill out their Pokedex and gain all kinds of experience without putting forth any sort of effort.
What Niantic has done is update the game so that it can detect if any of your Pokemon have been captured through these methods that violate the game's terms of service. As a reminder, anyone playing the game has agreed to those terms, so you can't really be upset at Niantic for figuring out a way to properly inforce them.
In short, any Pokemon that was captured through illegal means will become useless and be replaced in your collection with an image of a diagonal red line. All those Pokemon are doing now is taking up space, so you'll probably want to delete them soon if you've been partaking in questionable Pokemon Go tactics. Assuming this same method has been applied to the Pokedex itself, we imagine that's an even more severe punishment sure to embarrass cheaters. Imagine bragging about catching an especially rare pocket monster and then opening up your Pokedex to show proof, only to be greeted by an image that proves nothing more than the fact that you've been cheating.
As for the timing of this fix, we figure it has a lot to do with the upcoming Pokemon Let's Go games heading to the Nintendo Switch. Revealed earlier this week, these games will let you transfer critters between Pokemon Go and the Switch games. It would certainly throw off the balance if folks went into the new Switch game with an army of illegally-caught Pokemon.
If you've got some free time and want to dive deeper into this development, I'd recommend reading the thread of comments following the Niantic tweet. There are a lot of interesting arguments on both sides and, if nothing else, plenty of proof that lots of folks take Pokemon Go very seriously.