In the newest patch, Niantic has banned rooted and jailbroken devices from playing Pokémon Go. Players are undeniably upset about this – imagine spending tons of time training your Pokemon only to have the game snatched away from you after one random update. A rooted or jailbroken phone uses outside software that can do anything from drastically change your phone’s operating system to make apps appear bigger on your screen.
Niantic announced on Facebook: “we continue to focus on eliminating bots and scrapers from Pokémon GO. Rooted or jailbroken devices are not supported by Pokémon GO.” However, stopping rooted or jailbroken phones from playing Pokémon Go won’t fix the cheating problem in the game. Players who want to get a perfect IV Dragonite can still use computer programs that can function with an unrooted phone.
So then why did Niantic throw this inconvenience into their game? Reddit’s leading theory is that Niantic doesn’t want players hacking the Pokémon Go Plus, a peripheral worn on the wrist that pairs with the game, which will release next week. According to reddit user krixsta : “I’m not sure of the possibilities the XDA and the Jailbreak communities will come up with, but I’m sure they can make that accessory do a lot that Niantic didn’t intend to.”
If a hacker can get into the source code for the Pokémon Go Plus and figure out how it works, they might be able to break it. We aren’t even sure what the Pokémon Go Plus does yet – it’s still unclear how it works or if the app even needs to be open to use it. If it has got its own GPS inside, a person with the right knowledge could even hack a device to track a person’s every move and that’s some scary stuff.
No matter what the reason, banning rooted and jailbroken devices from Pokémon Go wasn’t the best decision. Players will always find a way to cheat or break a product, there’s no way around it. Reddit user metalslug53 compares Niantic’s attempt to control their product to what Sony did with the PlayStation Portable: “Sony made the same crucial mistake in thinking they could stop hackers from fiddling with their devices. The PlayStation Portable hacking scene is considered to be the best in the handheld market, and hackers have already found ways to kernel access the PlayStation Vita.”
I’m sure someone will invent a way for rooted devices to play Pokémon Go, but until that happens, lots of players are left with an usable game. It’s a shame that Niantic did this, but hopefully they learn from this mistake and it doesn’t impact the future of our beloved AR wonderland too much.