The Pokemon Go bots are a threat to the Pokemon Go trainer experience and Niantic's revenues.
Why would you pay for PokeCoins, if you can farm PokeBalls with a Pokemon Go Bot? Yes. It is against the terms of the game, but usage of bots becomes more common as "PokeBots" get easy to use and are running fast. As reported last week, coders around the world automate the Pokemon Go game play with bots based on reverse engineered Pokemon Go APIs.
How To: Buy a Pokemon Go Plus
The Pokomen Go APIs are used of real-time mapping apps and services, but also for PokeBall farming, hatching eggs, and automatic catching of Pokemon. The encounters of pale geeks in Central Park will soon be thing of the past. They can stay home and harvest Pokemon in Tokyo or elsewhere.
Some Pokemon Go bots can take an account from level 1 to 20 in about 5 to 6 hours. To achieve level 20 you have to put in some serious leg work and time. Using a bot is cheating and against the TOS, but it is happening. The risks are soft bans and complete deletion of an account, but we do not see much talk about this in the Pokemon Go developer community.
Niantic has to interfere with something to curb the usage of Pokemon Go bots. Forbes Contributor Evan Spence believes its not technology that can effectively stop PokeBots, it needs to be new experiences in the game that dilute the value of using a bot: "That means moving away from a farming and grinding experience to something more social. If Niantic can build experiences that deliver excitement that cannot be farmed, then the bots – while an awkward thorn in the ecosystem – would simply be another way to bring new players into the ecosystem."
Spence makes a very valid point. I believe though Niantic needs to do both. Right now Pokemon Go security has holes liek Swiss Cheese. The circulating Pokemon Go APIs can very likely be abused by hackers. Every cloud service has advanced security measures in place.
I am also concerned that we do not see the full extend of what coders can already do on the Pokemon Go platform. The Pokemon Go APIs on GitHub are basically open source, but there could be programmers that hold their advanced code under wraps for more powerful purposes.
I am all for an Pokemon Go API. It needs ot be an official NianticAPI that enables coders to build third party tools and services. The John Hanke led startup has such an API for Ingress.
Niantic has announced some new features coming to Pokemon Go, but these are minor additions that do not change the experience of the game play and the underlying farming methodology.
Note: You will not find in this report a list of Pokemon Go bots. These apps and programs are against the Terms of Services of Niantic. You will find them on reddit.
Read more Pokemon Go reports.