Yes, you can play Pokemon Go on PC

If Reddit, our Twitter feeds, and pretty much every other post on most general gaming sites are any indication, a lot of people are playing Pokemon Go right now. The mobile-exclusive augmented reality game gets players up and physically walking around their towns to hunt down Pokemon randomly scattered about. And, in the great tradition of all Nintendo games, it's never coming to PC.

But this time things are different. This time we can join the masses in what is shaping up to be a genuine cultural phenomenon. And we can do it in true PC gaming fashion: using a bootstrapped emulator without ever leaving our desks.

Full credit for this goes to YouTuber Travis D, who created a tutorial video (shown below) and a detailed set of instructions on how to get it working. Essentially what you need to do is use the Android phone emulator BlueStacks to run the game from your PC, but it's not quite that simple. You then have to root that virtual android device so you can install an app that allows you to fake your GPS location, thus being able to take advantage of the core mechanic of Pokemon Go—real world movement. 

It's not quite as complex as it all sounds and looks—getting it up and running took me about 20 minutes—but let me be abundantly clear when I say that it's not a perfect solution. While all the functionality is there and (for the most part) working, it's still not the way the game was meant to be played. For one thing, you have to tab out of the game and reload the GPS faker every time you want to move. For another, playing Go without actually walking around outside undermines the vast majority of what makes the game so appealing. 

It takes some tweaking to get working, crashes occasionally—though I hear that's a problem with the mobile version too—and if you jump around too fast the game might give you a temporary ban. Although the game is free, this is definitely against the terms of service for Pokémon Go, so use at your own risk. Per the TOS, players cannot "attempt to access or search the Services or Content, or download Content from the Services through the use of any technology or means other than those provided by Niantic or other generally available third-party web browsers."

If you absolutely must catch 'em all (in the least-enjoyable way possible), you can watch Travis D's tutorial video below.

Travis D's guide provides a deeper walkthrough of the many steps required to emulate the game on PC. Be warned that spoofing your GPS location with this method can lead to a ban on your account. Seriously, there's almost no benefit to doing this. Many readers have chimed in to let us know that bans for GPS spoofing were common in the developer's previous game, Ingress.

Tom Marks
Tom is PC Gamer’s Associate Editor. He enjoys platformers, puzzles and puzzle-platformers. He also enjoys talking about PC games, which he now no longer does alone. Tune in every Wednesday at 1pm Pacific on to see Tom host The PC Gamer Show.