It looks like Pokemon GO is going to lose a large chunk of potential players, as China has put a hold on the game’s release for the time being. That means Pokemon GO won’t be able to tap into the country of 1.3 billion people, at least not until it addresses some of China’s concerns. Given the sheer number of people in China, Pokemon GO developer Niantic may be moved to do just that.
According to Reuters, China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television is evaluating the risks that Pokemon GO presents, and will not provide a license for its release in the meantime. There are a few different concerns here, including threats to transport and the personal safety of players.
Pokemon GO has been blamed for a few different accidents since its release, with reported instances of players injuring themselves because they were distracted while playing. Just as well, Pokemon GO has shouldered the blame for a number of different car accidents, but at least one of those was later shown to be a hoax. Still, the reports are apparently enough for China to withhold a license for release.
Another issue China has with Pokemon GO further complicates things for Niantic. The country is worried about the threat the game poses to “geographical information security.” Being an augmented reality game, Pokemon GO relies heavily on Google Maps and gameplay that centers around real-world locations, which has long been rumored to be a sticking point for China.
It sounds like Pokemon GO won’t be releasing in China any time soon, as Niantic would have to change a lot of its core gameplay to address the country’s concerns. Reuters notes that many other developers are currently making AR games of their own, so it sounds like the first one to figure out how to address China’s concerns stands to capture a considerable amount of players. We’ll just have to wait and see if Niantic chooses to retool Pokemon GO for a Chinese release, or if other AR developers will beat it to the punch.