Niantic (Pokemon Go creator) has issued a cease and desist letter to the developer of the most popular Pokemon Go API. This could mark the end of Pokemon Go bots (programs that automate game play for Pokemon Go). As Pokemon Go became an overnight smash hit, a number of unauthorized APIs to automate play popped up, and many anticipated that Niantic would take action. The targeted developer shared the letter on Reddit.
While the developer may shutdown his operation, the code is publicly available at Github and many developers have already adopted it to build trackers and bots. Accordingly, its unknown how effective the case and desist letter will become. With over 75 million downloads, Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm. While some uses of unauthorized APIs are seen as helpful (e.g. tracker apps), cheats and automated bots degrade the overall playing experience.
While the legal threat is one way to address the situation, Niantic has much more power within its arsenal if it desires to take effective action. The unofficial APIs have been developed as a result of reverse engineering. Accordingly, Nianctic can make minor tweaks to the game that will break the APIs currently available. Only developers that constantly update and maintain their APIs could adjust to such changes. Even those fully dedicated to ongoing maintenance would see some level of disruption. Alternatively, Nianctic could release an official API, which would be music to the developer community's ears.