Recently, some people haven't been able to play Pokemon Go because their phones are jailbroken. Would discussing how to get the app running on their phones be on-topic, or is that an area we don't want the site to get into?

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    I'd love to see this discussed on its own merits rather than trying to reference and interpret a bunch of semi-related metas about piracy, unless of course there was one that already flat out answered this. – Sterno Sep 20 '16 at 17:36
  • I don't see why we wouldn't if we can help. Jailbreaking a phone is not illegal. – Ellesedil Sep 20 '16 at 17:43
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    By chance, are we lumping Rooting (Android) and Jailbreaking (iOS) into the same group? I have a bit of an issue in tech support for both but I agree that jailbreaking is less of an issue compared to gaining root. – NBN-Alex Sep 21 '16 at 8:45
  • @NBN-Alex As far as I'm aware, rooting isn't inherently bad either. And if I recall, there was an article recently about some developers/manufacturers lightening up on penalties for rooting (ex. voiding warranty). – Kaizerwolf Sep 21 '16 at 13:12
  • Well it does encourage cheating, especially for Pokemon Go, you'll need a rooted device in order to use a gps spoofer. – Aequitas Sep 21 '16 at 14:16

Yes, these questions are fine and on-topic. Jailbreaking a phone is not illegal, so answering these questions is not supporting illegal activity any more than answering questions about ROM emulations is.

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    I think your argument would be stronger if you could provide some sources (re: Jailbreaking a phone is not illegal) – user101016 Sep 21 '16 at 9:54
  • @camelCase It seems to vary from country to country, at least according to the Wikipedia article – sequoiad Sep 21 '16 at 10:44
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    I think with emulation, the case is that the emulating software is legal, and that there is an assumption you have obtained the ROMS (maybe BIOS too) legally (i.e. extracted from the source media that you own yourself). – user101016 Sep 21 '16 at 11:06
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    ... therefore asking how to run a ROM would be fine, but not how to obtain a ROM. Asking for a ROM falls under illegal AND shopping off-topic criteria, I believe. (unless asking how to extract the ROM from the source media, I guess). – user101016 Sep 21 '16 at 11:08
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    This was an admittedly weak argument, but there had been discussion in chat about whether or not such questions were on topic and no one could come up with a compelling reason they shouldn't be, yet the overall opinion was that they probably arent. I'm looking to see if anyone can actually justify them being off-topic. – Sterno Sep 21 '16 at 11:57
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    Jailbreaking doesn't seem off-topic on other SE. See apple.stackexchange.com/tags/jailbreak/info – user101016 Sep 21 '16 at 15:10
  • And here: meta.apple.stackexchange.com/questions/492/… – user101016 Sep 21 '16 at 15:15
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    What if the game has been specifically programmed to NOT run on rooted/jailbroken devices? (this is the case of Pokemon Go) In that case that's not a matter of giving tech support to troubleshoot bugged configurations, it's not even a matter of jailbreaking, it becomes a way to fool the game into thinking you're a legitimate user. Isn't that like using a keygen or a crack to play a game illegitimately gained? – Kappei Sep 22 '16 at 9:32
  • @Kappei - Just like ROM emulation questions, this meta is nothing to do with how a game was obtained (by the way, Pokemon GO seems to be free) but rather once you have that game... what settings can I change on my phone to get it to run. I really don't think we will have make it okay for someone to ask how to crack a game. – user101016 Sep 23 '16 at 8:57
  • "Jailbreak was previously deemed illegal [in the US] under the DMCA until the Library of Congress issued a specific exemption for the situation" - oh yeah, I forgot about that – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Sep 27 '16 at 16:35

First and foremost...we should always assume good faith on the part of the user. And I do mean always. If the question doesn't ask how or where to obtain a ROM, game or app then we shouldn't assume this is a question asking how to get a pirated game running. Otherwise, we should vote to close as off-topic (illegal release OR shopping advice would be suitable reasons).

The second most important point is to assume that it is not illegal to own a jailbroken device. The only reliable sources I found concerning jailbreaking seem to suggest that it isn't illegal to jailbreak your device in most countries (including the USA). You'll probably void your warranty, which is about the limits of what I can find. I couldn't see anything that suggests you would be breaking a law by possessing a jailbroken device (regardless of who actually performed the jailbreaking). If someone can find a credible source that says owning a jailbroken phone is illegal then I would guess all of the below can be ignored, and just make such questions off-topic. Otherwise...

If the question is asking how to jailbreak, we should vote to close as off-topic because jailbreaking is a speciality beyond gaming. Other SE sites may be suitable, although in general most other sites don't really like "give me a tutorial" style questions. Regardless, I don't think this site should be the source of such questions (even if the sole purpose of jailbreaking is to run a game).

If the question is simply how to get a game running on a specific platform (whether it is an emulator, a jailbroken phone or whatever) we should keep the question open (assuming it doesn't fall foul of other off-topic reasons).

If the question is in the above form (i.e. how to get a game running on a specific platform/device) but mentions that the game was obtained by (potentially) illegal means we should apply some common sense. If the source of the game is irrelevant (i.e. question still holds for "legal" means) we can (note: "can" not "should") edit out the offending parts to keep the question open (as I believe already occurs occasionally for other questions). Otherwise we close at off-topic (because we don't support illegal releases, and this problem seems to only concern an illegal version). Essentially, this meta covers the same ground.

Specifically concerning Pokemon GO releasing an update that blocks rooted devices, DJ Pirtu commented a suitable answer:

The game is specifically made to not run with rooted devices. Sorry, you're out of luck.

I believe that is a suitable answer to an "How can I get Pokemon GO running on my rooted device?" type question. Such a question also offers scope for other answers that concern supporting older versions, and potential for changes in the future (maybe a future rooted/jailbreaking method will work around such restrictions?).

This model seems to already match what we are doing with emulation questions. This model could also apply to "How can I get running without Steam?" - because some Steam games can be run without Steam. We can remove questions that are clearly about pirated source support, and keep questions that are valid for legitimate purchases of the game.

Short Version

Q: Can someone ask an "How can I run Pokemon GO on my rooted device?" question?
A: Yes. Potential answer = "The game is specifically made to not run with rooted devices. Sorry, you're out of luck."

  • Your argument and possible solution run counter to each other. Thing is, the game can run on rooted devices. The devs don't want you to, but since when is it our job to police or enforce that? – Frank Sep 26 '16 at 15:43
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    @frank - The devs don't want you to - I don't think we should enforce developer intent. Illegal practises such as piracy should be off-topic.. because it is theft, illegal and isn't in the spirit of the site. But so what if a dev puts a check in to a game that can be bypassed by an emulator, config file etc. If we can give good faith that the game itself is legal (i.e. purchased/obtained through correct channels) then I think technical support questions regarding getting the game running on a platform should be fine, subject to other off-topic reasons not being met. – user101016 Sep 26 '16 at 15:58
  • @frank - under the skin, it is just the same rule as done with ROM emulation. – user101016 Sep 26 '16 at 15:59
  • No, it's not even close. There are lots of things the devs don't want you to do. I challenge the idea that it's our job to enforce their will. We're gamers. Not police. – Frank Sep 26 '16 at 16:01
  • @Frank - I am confused with the point you make in relation to my suggestion. The only dev wish vs. reason for VTC is when asking for the location of a pirated game, or getting a pirated game to run (when the steps only apply to a pirated game). I've not asked to enforce dev wishes - although it is safe to assume that would be their wish. This already falls under our practise of not supporting illegal releases for any game anyway. – user101016 Sep 26 '16 at 16:07
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    Yeah, it has nothing to do with piracy, which is why I'm confused about your suggested answer. The dev doesn't want you to run Go on a jailbroken device, but it most definitely can be done. It's not piracy, it's not cheating, so why would we not help with getting it running? – Frank Sep 26 '16 at 16:09
  • @frank - I am widening the scope because there is potential for alternative sources of games creeping into such questions. For example, cracked APKs for paid games. I know the cost of smartphone games tend to range between free and very little, but I don't think just because jailbroken questions are fine we should allow clearly pirated games to be okay too. – user101016 Sep 26 '16 at 16:15
  • There is no need to bring piracy into the discussion. We're not opening ourselves up to supporting piracy. This is specifically about getting a game to work in a manner the devs don't want you to. – Frank Sep 26 '16 at 16:16
  • @frank - granted, trying to cover answers/comments made regarding piracy probably made piracy over-important to my argument – user101016 Sep 26 '16 at 16:24
  • I understand where you're coming from this @Frank: Games are a closed system of rules, but player intent will always override developer intent. It's why we have Rocket Jumps, Combos/Cancels, and Any% Speedruns. The Dev's vision isn't for us to hold sacred if a better answer (with little consequences) is available. - I believe the issue here though is less of keeping Dev intent and promoting non-gaming-related answers. It seems that everyone is talking over each other on this one without giving good examples as to what's causing the issue. – NBN-Alex Sep 27 '16 at 7:02
  • Here's an example of where I come from on this topic The answer to the question boils down to "do something unrelated to the game in order to affect the game". This is like answering that a reader needs to buy a Game Genie to warp to 8-8 and defeat bowser by pressing select. - You COULD do that, but that's not helpful to the question at hand. (and dangerous for some layperson to read as a "good idea". – NBN-Alex Sep 27 '16 at 7:09
  • @NBN-Alex - In your example, the answer provided does answer the question at hand. Remember, it is one of many answers, and I would say the answer is useful for people who already have a rooted device (probably not so much for people without unlocked devices). – user101016 Sep 27 '16 at 14:46
  • @NBN-Alex - RE: Game Genie - yes, you COULD do that, but it will be one of many answers to a "How to beat Bowser" question. If you have Game Genie then you may find it immediately useful. If you don't, well the you can dismiss the answer and try another. Remember this site uses a format where a question can have multiple answers. Some answers will be more useful to some people than others. – user101016 Sep 27 '16 at 14:48
  • Do we help people run old games that were designed to run in Windows XP on Windows 10? Do we help people run games designed for Windows on Apple? If someone wants to get Age of Empires to run on Windows 10, do we say "The game is specifically made to run on older Windows operating systems. Sorry, you're out of luck." Is that really how we should be responding? – Ellesedil Sep 27 '16 at 19:20
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    @NBN-Alex: That's on the user/asker to decide if it's worth the trouble for them or not since they're the ones that has to implement it. I don't see how that has much bearing on the answer other than potentially including that information as a warning. – Ellesedil Sep 28 '16 at 3:05

Generally speaking, such questions would be fine—we can assume good faith on the part of the user. However, in this case specifically, the developer has intentionally implemented a check to prevent rooted and jailbroken phones from playing.

I find this similar to Tom Clancy's The Division, which requires internet even in solo mode. Sure, I might have good faith in asking for an offline crack, so I can play by myself. but that would be breaking the DRM, so we cannot support it. Here, I view the anti-root check as a form of DRM, albeit simple and easy to bypass. Nonetheless, since it acts as a form of DRM, my perspective is that we shouldn't support breaking it.

On the other hand, if rooting or jailbreaking somehow caused a game to not work, but not because the developer explicitly tried to prevent it, then I think it should be fine.

In short: if the developer puts in access controls, no matter the type or triviality, we should not support users in trying to break them.

NB: I think this form of DRM is pretty draconian, but developers still reserve the right to be so...

  • Why is it our job to help them enforce it? – Frank Sep 26 '16 at 15:41
  • @Frank I don't think it's our job to do either. It might not be our job to enforce it--so, if a user mentions in passing that their device is rooted, we don't hold that against them and refuse to answer their main question--but we also shouldn't explicitly support users in trying to break it. IMHO, that would be the most neutral and fair stance to take. – Schism Sep 26 '16 at 16:51
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    To flip that question around, would we be liable in assisting users in breaking DRM for active games? The legal issue is all over the place (kinda yes, but not really), so the easiest answer would be not to touch a thing in the first place. – NBN-Alex Sep 26 '16 at 16:52
  • @Schism Why wouldn't we answer it? That's real expertise that's very related to gaming. You're saying that because the devs did something, we should enforce it. I challenge that view. – Frank Sep 26 '16 at 16:54
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    @NBN-Alex We generally don't get into the legalities of it. If it's a problem for SE, they can let us know. Our only real stance for that sort of stuff is to not support piracy. – Frank Sep 26 '16 at 16:56
  • Also, I feel this is the most sensible answer to the question at hand. Jailbreaking and Rooting allows for a user to get full access to their devices, making them no different to a PC. The issue comes into play when an app (in one way or another) will not play fair with these settings. I feel that we should imply the same Minecraft Mod rules, where asking is ok, but trying to fix an issue that's caused by root/jailbreak is out of scope. – NBN-Alex Sep 26 '16 at 16:56

I'd say that we should judge on a game-by-game basis.

That's because, while rooting the phone isn't illegal per se, there may be other factors that are game dependant that make the question fall in the off-topic area.

In the specific case of Pokemon Go, update 0.37.0 made the game not compatible with rooted/jailbroken devices, so asking how to make it work on those phones makes the question fall, in my opinion, in the "Piracy/Illegal" close motivation.

EDIT because there seems to be a misunderstanding: Im not saying that these questions fall into the Piracy close reason every time. I'm in favor of questions/answers about ROM setup, emulators configurations and others. I'm talking SPECIFICALLY about these questions for Pokemon Go to be considered off-topic, not because using the game on rooted devices COULD lead to cheating, but because the game, in the latest update, has been INTENTIONALLY made not compatble with rooted devices. While I don't liike this kind of change, overriding this lock is, in my opinion, lke cracking a DRM of a game you don't own, or using a keygen, all things currently considered off-topic here on Arqade

  • NO NO NO! How in the world could you consider doing something that makes it POSSIBLE to cheat illegal/piracy. Read here (second definition) – JDSweetBeat Sep 22 '16 at 21:49
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    "Full definition of piracy, 3.a: the unauthorized use of another's production, invention, or conception especially in infringement of a copyright". Niantic INTENTIONALLY BLOCKED the game on rooted devices. I'm not talking about the POSSIBILITY of cheating, by finding a workaround to play on one of those phones you are doing an "unauthorized use of another's production", so, by the Merriam-Webster definition, you're pirating the game. – Kappei Sep 23 '16 at 5:03
  • Is this meta about questions asking to mod games like Pokemon GO? Or how to configure your jailbroken phone to run Pokemon GO? If the former then I see your point, but not in the latter. Based on existing off-topic reasons, I really doubt the intention of this meta is to make the former on-topic. – user101016 Sep 23 '16 at 8:51
  • Also, this meta doesn't suggest we should be allowing questions that ask for the whereabouts of cracked games... as we don't even allow questions for the locations of any games (i.e. shopping advice is off-topic). – user101016 Sep 23 '16 at 8:52
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    Why make the questions off-topic if we can simply answer "The game is spesificly made to not run with rooted devices. Sorry, you're out of luck."? – DJ Pirtu Sep 23 '16 at 8:59
  • @DJPirtu - I'd say that would be a useful answer for people who have had success with getting other games (and even older releases of Pokemon GO) to run on a jailbroken phone. – user101016 Sep 23 '16 at 9:45
  • @DJPirtu They aren't out of luck. There are ways around it. – Sterno Sep 23 '16 at 13:18
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    @Sterno But is this way around something we should even try to provide? I see the situation to be similar to them having to break a DRM to get a game to work. No matter what the reason, we wouldn't ever go that far. The desitinction I see is that we have moved from supporting a game on a jailbroken platfrom to literaly cracking a game. – DJ Pirtu Sep 23 '16 at 13:22
  • @DJPirtu That's exactly the question this meta is trying to decide.I don't share your point of view, but can definitely see where you're coming from, and wanted to see where the votes took us. – Sterno Sep 23 '16 at 14:09
  • @camelCase older releases of Pokemon Go ran fine on rooted devices. After v0.37.0 it stopped working because Niantic added a tool (Safety Net) that blocks the game on non-stock ROMs. I share the perplexities of DJPirtu, especially because it's not a matter of settings/configuration, but involves a lengthy process that requires re-flashing your phone. While not actually touching the APK, this looks too close to cracking a DRM for me. Anyway, I've explaind my position; as Sterno said, let's see where the votes lead us. – Kappei Sep 23 '16 at 20:53

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