There are two Terms of Service (ToS) related to this game:

According to the first ToS, I cannot install the game if it wasn't published in my country:

[...] (iii) All apps published by Pokémon, [...] mobile devices or other platforms (“Apps”), unless otherwise indicated in the app;

[...]In no instance may you:
[...](xiii) Attempt to circumvent any restriction in any Service based upon age, geography, or other restriction imposed by us.

With the second, I cannot find any restriction of this kind.

Which set of rules do we need to follow? Is there a legitimate way to install the game from other sources, instead of the official Google Play/Appstore?

2 Answers 2


Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. If in doubt, always consult a real lawyer. "The internet told me so" does not hold in court.

As far as I know, Niantic has not officially published the game on any platform except for the official Google Play store and Apple Appstore.

Rights in App

Subject to your compliance with these Terms, Niantic grants you a limited nonexclusive, nontransferable, non-sublicensable license to download and install a copy of the App on a mobile device and to run such copy of the App solely for your own personal, noncommercial purposes. Except as expressly permitted in these Terms, you may not: (a) copy, modify, or create derivative works based on the App; (b) distribute, transfer, sublicense, lease, lend, or rent the App to any third party; (c ) reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the App; or (d) make the functionality of the App available to multiple users through any means. Niantic reserves all rights in and to the App not expressly granted to you under these Terms.


Effect of Termination on Trading Items, Virtual Money, and Virtual Goods

We may cancel, suspend, or terminate your Account and your access to your Trading Items, Virtual Money, Virtual Goods, the Content, or the Services, in our sole discretion and without prior notice, including if (a) your Account is inactive (i.e., not used or logged into) for one year; (b) you fail to comply with these Terms; (c ) we suspect fraud or misuse by you of Trading Items, Virtual Money, Virtual Goods, or other Content; (d) we suspect any other unlawful activity associated with your Account; or (e) we are acting to protect the Services, our systems, the App, any of our users, or the reputation of Niantic, TPC, or TPCI.

Source: https://www.nianticlabs.com/terms/pokemongo/en

Any copy hosted outside of the Google Play store and Apple Appstore is an illegal copy, unless that copy has been explicitly approved by Niantic. In other words: The host is infringing Niantic's copyright. Downloading copyrighted material, such as Pokemon GO, from an illegal source is punishable by law in most countries. The copyright holder has the right to bring you to court for it, and demand that you pay a fine for downloading the copyrighted software. The copyright holder has the right to suspend your account for any infringement, including unlawful activity.

Usage of a legal copy of the game is not limited to countries where the game can be legally downloaded. As far as I am aware, traveling with a legal copy of the game to a country where the game is not available is allowed, and so is playing the game in that country.

  • Can apkmirror.com be an "App provider"? I can't see any restrictions to app providers or defined lists of them.
    – Okloks
    Aug 21, 2016 at 9:42
  • This is the best answer for this kind of question. Side note as well: The Pokemon.com ToS that's linked is for the Trainer Club account which is used for Pokemon Go and other Pokemon services. The Pokemon Company's TOS agreement isn't going to cover everything as it's the service provider (Niantic in Pokemon Go) that sets the rules for using the service. (TPC just makes sure that the brand/IP is used correctly.)
    – NBN-Alex
    Aug 21, 2016 at 9:43
  • APK mirror is not an approved app provider. - They do make copies of the approved apps to host, but neither Niantic nor TPC are going to publish the app to them directly. Technically, what APKmirror is doing is illegal as far as TPC is concerned (it's complicated but tldr is that TPC has to vet whoever is using the brand/IP, but hosting the APK without reaching to TPC, APKmirror could be in legal hotwater.)
    – NBN-Alex
    Aug 21, 2016 at 9:49
  • @Okloks "(d) make the functionality of the App available to multiple users through any means"
    – Sumurai8
    Aug 21, 2016 at 9:49

The second set are the terms and conditions to the Pokemon.com site, unrelated to the game, while the first are the terms and conditions to the Pokemon GO mobile game. So it seems that the terms of Service that you should be following are the first set. There are ways to circumvent the play-store issue, and as far as I'm aware, I don't think anyone has had an account suspended for It.

The first set of Terms state they apply to "any game published by Pokemon". Pokemon GO is listed as being published under "Niantic inc", although this probably doesn't exempt it from the Second set of terms.

However, even though it may be against the terms, as far as I'm aware, circumventing play-store restrictions has never resulted in a ban. Many people were playing Pokemon GO here in the UK a week before UK launch.

  • Looks like you mixed up first and second ToS.
    – Okloks
    Aug 21, 2016 at 9:32

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