Although we can only go off of the sparse gameplay concepts that Niantic has hinted about, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is likely to be plagued by the same cheats and hacks that have haunted Pokemon GO.
One of the issues that augmented reality games that utilize your phone’s GPS to pinpoint your location are susceptible to is spoofing. Spoofers use software to “fake” their location, allowing them to trick their phone in to thinking they are anywhere in the world that they would like to be. In Pokemon GO, the entire premise of the game was to get people to go outside and find the Pokemon on their own, while spoofers began to use software to simulate a fake location to catch Pokemon from their living room. Others have claimed that they live in rural areas where the Pokemon spawns are poor, and that they are using spoofing software in order to level the playing field with players who live in more urban areas. Regional specific Pokemon have also contributed to players desire to spoof, as some Pokemon only spawn in specific regions and players who do not travel may never have the opportunity to catch these Pokemon legitimately. While these issues are not directly related to Wizards Unite, it is likely that spoofing will be an issue with Wizards Unite due to similar gameplay mechanics.
Trackers are another issue that has plagued Pokemon GO. While the gameplay in Pokemon GO required you to get out and move to find Pokemon that may be nearby, third-party trackers came a long and allowed players to cheat and view all Pokemon in their region and the times in which they were spawning. Niantic has tried to combat this, by shutting down some more popular trackers, but overall the success has been mixed. For every tracker they close down another one seems to have popped up, and they appear to be in a never-ending cat and mouse game. Wizards Unite will likely have many trackers pop-up following its release, and although Niantic undoubtedly will try to shut down some of these as well, they will most likely be unable to be entirely successful in suppressing them.
Example of what a Wizards Unite bot could be like.
Although spoofing and trackers have given some players unfair advantages, to call these cheats a major problem would be vastly overlooking the most widespread issue that has taken over Pokemon GO. Botting has become rampant on Pokemon GO, and has frustrated players playing legitimate since Pokemon GO was released. Bots were released quickly after GOs release, and allow players a hands free approach to leveling up their accounts and acquiring rare Pokemon. Bots can run 24/7 and mimic human gameplay. Bots allowed players and sellers on the marketplace to easily obtain extremely high level accounts and rare 100 IV Pokemon. While these high leveled accounts would take players weeks of non-stop gameplay, bots do not get tired and can be run in the background of one’s computer. Legitimate players have long voiced their dissent to Niantic after botted accounts began to stack local gyms with very strong, nearly unbeatable Pokemon. Niantic took action against bots quickly after GOs release by issuing permanent bans to cheaters, but there has again been a cat and mouse game between cheaters and the cheat detection tools. We expect Harry Potter: Wizards Unite to have bots available within the first week of the official release due to its hype. Its no doubt that Niantic does as well, so it will be interesting to see what protection mechanisms they may have developed to combat this.
Whenever a hyped game is set to hit the market, cheaters are always ready to try and find a way to achieve an unfair advantage. Wizards Unite will be plagued with the same cheats and hacks that have effected other augmented reality games. We expect spoofers, trackers, and botters to cause issues for Niantic when Wizards Unite is released. Whether Niantic is prepared and has developed better detection mechanisms for these cheats is a different question!