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Niantic settles Pokémon Go trespassing class-action lawsuit

Pokemon Go

Pokémon Go may be insanely popular, but it hasn’t been without its own share of problems and controversies.

Then there was the incredible festival of cringe that was the Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago. The event was plagued by huge problems and in 2017 it rather spoiled a bunch of public perception of the game and the developer. Following that, a ton of people had to be banned from the game due to cheaters engaging in hacking and other chicanery. It even turned into Niantic suing cheat makers.

And when it’s not a bunch of cheaters wrecking the game for everyone else, there’s more serious stuff going on. Namely, that some people playing Pokémon Go don’t know how to pay attention. Injuries, robberies and other mishaps and terrible examples of anti-social behavior plagued the mobile title since pretty much the day it launched. But things got worse over time, especially for developer Niantic.

Over the last few years, more and more mobile gamers had resorted to trespassing and doing other stupid stunts to attempt to catch rare Pokémon. This led to a lot of homeowners and businesses being terribly inconvenienced by overly eager fans looking for rare catches. This eventually turned into a class-action lawsuit against Niantic, attempting to blame them for failure to control the playerbase. The game tells players to avoid ‘dangerous areas while playing Pokémon Go’, but that clearly wasn’t enough.

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In 2016, the lawsuit began with 12 homeowners involved, seeking damages and a solution over the problem from Niantic. Though it has not accepted liability for the violations, Niantic has settled the case by paying $4 million. Almost all of this will go toward legal fees, and the plaintiffs themselves will receive $1,000 each. The initial suit was seeking $2,500 in damages per plantiff, but the supervising judge dismissed that amount.

There’s another stipulation though that places Niantic in a precarious position. Niantic must integrate an online reporting system so that property owners will be able to report players trespassing or engaging in other illegal activities. According to Niantic, the team will respond to 95 per cent of trespassing complaints within 15 days of receiving them. It’s unclear what this could mean for players who continue to trespass after these changes, but bans definitely seem like a possibility.

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