Much to the chagrin of Pokemon fans in China, the country officially bans Pokemon GO from its borders, citing the game as a major hazard to its citizens.
Although Pokemon GO is a record-setting app, holding several Guinness World records and being one of the most downloaded mobile games in history, unfortunately not everyone has access to it. For example, the country of Iran banned Pokemon GO citing security concerns, while Volkswagen employees were also banned from playing Pokemon GO over concerns that the app could be used to steal the company’s secrets.
The latest to restrict access to the app is China, which says that Pokemon GO is just too dangerous for the country’s citizens, making it incredibly unlikely that the game will be released in the country any time soon. According to the Reuters news agency, Chinese state censor, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, has major concerns about the augmented reality game.
A games panel working as part of the China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association (which is governed by the state censor) has identified a “threat to geographical information security and the threat to transport and the personal safety of consumers.” Noting “a high level of responsibility to national security and the safety of people’s lives and property,” the Chinese state censor is said to be working with other government agencies to assess the security risks.
Though the censor may decide that the security risks are not too great, it has also been noted that Pokemon GO relies on Google services (including Google Maps) to work properly, but these are blocked in China. So, Pokemon GO developer Niantic would still face a significant challenge in order to get the app working properly in the region.
The fact that China is taking the security risks so seriously is unsurprising, as headlines about the dangers of Pokemon GO dominated the news cycle following the game’s release last summer. One woman was killed by a driver playing Pokemon GO, while one mother blamed Pokemon GO for their teenage daughter being hit by a car. And although, the Pokemon GO loading screen encourages people to be aware of their surroundings when playing the game, not everyone has heeded this warning – so tragic accidents have happened as a result. It’s not so outlandish that China is taking the proper precautions to protect its over 1 billion citizens from similar dangers.
While Niantic and The Pokemon Company would surely prefer it if Pokemon GO was released in China, as it could see enormous financial benefits, the game has already done incredibly well, money-wise, without Chinese availability. In addition to being the fastest earning mobile game in history, Pokemon GO makes an estimated $2 million a day, a figure which certainly shouldn’t be sniffed at.
Pokemon GO is now available on iOS and Android.