twitch pokemon

Illustration by Will Copus

Pokémon Go cheaters, beware streaming your gameplay.

It’s taken over three weeks, but Twitch is finally ready to enforce their own Terms of Service when it comes to Pokémon Go cheating.

Since the game’s release on July 6, Pokémon Go has become one of the more popular titles on the streaming video platform. The game, played on mobile phones, requires the player to travel to physical locations to catch the game’s title creatures, isn’t exactly the easiest thing to stream. Some players have attached a GoPro to their foreheads, streaming what they see as they walk around their town catching Pokémon. One streamer strapped a laptop to his back, complete with a mouse taped to his backpack strap, so he had enough power to stream on the go.

But many more players resorted to using third-party software to play the game from the comfort of their home, emulating the title and using GPS spoofing software to fake their location and walk around the world with the press of the keyboard. Those players will now receive a “strike” on their account, according to a statement released by Twitch yesterday.

Twitch’s Terms of Service makes violating a game’s Terms of Service a violation, and Pokémon Go developer Niantic’s guidelines clearly state that using third-party software, playing with multiple accounts, and falsifying your location is against the rules. Despite the streams' huge viewership, this journalist contacting Twitch about the problem, and many streamers openly admitting to faking their location and (even using multiple accounts), Twitch has seemed to ignore the issue.

Starting today, any streamer participating will receive a strike on their account. That means offenders will not be retroactively punished, which is perhaps prudent considering Twitch has ignored the problem for a full month.

There are also some questions as to the specifics of the policy. Niantic’s guidelines list “third-party software” as a violation. Does that include Android emulators, which streamers could use to play from their computer, as long as they don’t fake their location? There’d functionally be no difference than using a phone, except that it’d be easier to stream. Some streamers are about to found out, considering a quick glance at Twitch shows some are still using emulators and even some happily GPS spoofing along. But at least now, Twitch is committed to doing something about it. 

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