Pokémon GO too dangerous for China

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Pokémon Go
China says no to Pokémon GO.
Photo: Niantic

Pokémon fans in China may have to go without hit mobile game Pokémon GO after it was deemed too dangerous for approval.

The government is working to evaluate potential security risks, but it looks like the world’s biggest smartphone gaming market will miss out on one of the world’s biggest smartphone games.

Pokémon GO became an instant success when it landed in the App Store last July and racked up 100 million downloads in just under a month. At the height of its popularity, the game was making $10 million every single day.

Makers Niantic will have been looking forward to a similar surge in download numbers and revenue when the game finally launched in China — but it looks like that won’t be happening. Reuters reports that the Chinese government has no plans to approve it.

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television is evaluating the game’s risks due to “a high level of responsibility to national security and the safety of people’s lives and property,” according to an industry body.

The China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association says those risks include a “threat to geographical information security and the threat to transport and the personal safety of consumers.”

Pokémon GO has been blamed for road accidents, some of which have been fatal, after users were distracted playing the game behind the wheel. Niantic has since taken steps to prevent this by disabling the game when players are traveling above a certain speed.

There have also been privacy concerns about the way in which the game uses geolocation data. According to an earlier report from Reuters, some China residents have been worried it could be used to uncover secret military bases.

Pokémon GO also relies on Google services — it’s powered by Google Maps — which are already banned in China. The chance of China changing its mind and granting the game a license, then, seems incredibly slim right now.

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