We are all aware of how big the spoofer issue is in +Ingress around the world, and how big the challenge is to stop them.
I would like to applaud on the work they've done to date, but with the release and massive success of Pokémon Go, Ingress has stepped much further into the limelight, which has attracted (and still is attracting) an increasing number of spoofers.
In my strong
opinion, however, +Niantic
's stance on not reinstating the hard work of legit agents is destroying the game.
I'm sure I'm not the only agent who thinks this. I've noticed in my region (Australia/Oceania) that this stance has resulted in several hardcore agents retiring/quitting and the area slowly turning one-sided. The cost of doing large scale operations in Australia can be highly expensive and time consuming. For example, a trip to Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) can cost $500+ dollars in fuel alone
from the nearest major city and take about 17 hours of driving.+Niantic
's current stance, while positive, still isn't effective. The spoofers are able to jump in, do the damage (which may cost legit agents thousands of dollars), then get banned… Is this fair? No, the damage is done and it doesn't really matter if the account is banned. The other side can then jump in and take advantage of the situation.
In current times, the +Ingress
community has been able to provide sufficient evidence of obvious spoofing to +Niantic
which I'm sure has been highly useful in their investigations. This community feedback is based on a large community's collective knowledge and research and can make a strong case against suspicious accounts. If Niantic was to facilitate a procedure of receiving this information from the ingress community and using it as required, these spoofers could be dealt with in the speed required.
One example of a failed response can be seen in the Blue Mountains in Sydney, Australia. We have had an account in there for well over a week now slowly taking out every portal (most of which are 800+ days old). The first two takedowns from this account happened within 75 minutes at night between two portals that would take a highly-experienced hiker over five hours to trek during daylight hours and optimal conditions. This action is clear proof that this account is a GPS spoofer and the community reported this swiftly. However, no action has been taken by Niantic, and this spoofer still wanders around the Blue Mountains taking out difficult-to-reach portals within a few hours, portals which will take days to recover. This report has also generated XFAC interest and support as is evident in the comments, where both RES and ENL start talking about spoofers hitting guardians. The report: https://plus.google.com/108834619202169206995/posts/J37KR9Jdweq
With the introduction of Special Fielding Operations and the Via Lux Adventurer/Odyssey Badges, Niantic has shown that they want to get these elements of the game back into play. However these will not be effective if the spoofing isn't stopped, especially the SFOs. The SFOs will be highly subjected to spoofing, not only during the operation, but the months before hand. Highly strategic links can be spoofed up months in advance and will affect the outcome on the SFO, which in turn will affect the outcome of an anomaly. If anomalies become more subjected to spoofers, agents will stop coming and the true essence of the game will be lost. I ask to remove SFOs (despite how fun they are) from anomalies until the spoofer issue is dealt with.
In my strong opinion, banning isn't enough to stop (or even to slow down) the influx of spoofers. If +Niantic
's stance was changed to include reinstating the conditions before the spoofing, the spoofers’ efforts would have zero effect and spoofing will have little-to-no benefit in these kinds of games.
I understand this will be a challenge to implement, but I'm sure that it would be a major step in the right direction.