Skip to main content

You won't be able to find Pokémon Go in China, which is refusing to license the game

Pokemon Go Plus
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
It may have taken the rest of the world by storm, but Pokémon Go is nowhere to be found in China. And based on the latest reports, it’s going to stay that way. According to Reuters, Nintendo’s hugely popular augmented reality game will not make its way to China, as government officials have indicated they will not license it or similar apps “until potential security risks had been evaluated.”

If you’re one of the few people who isn’t familiar with the app (or are living in China), Pokémon Go is more than a nostalgic look back at one of your favorite childhood games. Rather, the AR app has encouraged movement and activity with its location-based setup, which requires players to quite literally hunt and capture Pokémon. And while it was initially lauded for its ability to combat sedentary lifestyles and actually get players out and about in the world, Pokémon Go has also seen its fair share of controversy.

A number of car accidents have been attributed to the game and its distracted players, and some Pokémon also appeared in rather questionable spaces. As a result, the Chinese government feels “a high level of responsibility to national security and the safety of people’s lives and property,” and is currently examining the potential risks posed by the game.

These so-called risks include the “threat to geographical information security, and the threat to transport and the personal safety of consumers,” as indicated by a games panel of the China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association.

But it’s not just Pokémon Go that’s attracting negative attention in China. Perhaps inspired by the popularity of this game, some other Chinese companies have also begun creating similar apps that rely upon location-based services and augmented reality. This influx in potentially dangerous gameplay has prompted the review, the Chinese government said.

Developer Niantic has yet to comment on the supposed security risks its popular game poses, and we’ll have to wait to see what the Chinese government ultimately decides when it comes to the fate of Pokémon Go.

Editors' Recommendations

Lulu Chang
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Fascinated by the effects of technology on human interaction, Lulu believes that if her parents can use your new app…
5 things we’d love to see at Google I/O 2023 (but probably won’t)
Google Pixel Watch on a wrist.

Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O, kicks off on May 10. Don't let the words "developer conference" put you off, though, as Google I/O is one of the biggest and most exciting shows of the year.

We've already covered what we expect to see at Google I/O 2023, and that list includes the Pixel 7a, Android 14, and even a Google Pixel Fold. But although those are all things we're really looking forward to and expecting to see, there are a number of reveals we'd also love to happen ... but are extremely unlikely to appear on the grand stage.

Read more
This could be the iPhone 15 Pro, and you won’t believe the camera
iPhone 15 Pro CAD render

It appears that 9to5Mac got an exclusive first look at the upcoming iPhone 15 Pro, and it looks like some significant changes are coming.

These renders are based on a CAD model provided by a reliable case manufacturer and produced by 3D artist Ian Zelbo. We can expect the iPhone 15 lineup, including the iPhone 15 Pro, to arrive sometime later this year.

Read more
NBA All-World aims to replicate Pokémon Go’s success starting today
A player walks around their neighborhood's map in NBA All-World.

Niantic launched NBA All-World, its basketball-themed, location-based mobile game, on iOS and Android today. Ahead of this release, Digital Trends attended a presentation to learn more about how the sports AR title works.
If you've played any of Niantic's games before, many elements of NBA All-World will feel quite familiar. The mobile game tracks players' location and encourages them to explore. While doing so, players will find Drop Zones that grant them new gear. Niantic says Drop Zones will often be placed near real-world counterparts, so players can find money near a bank or shoes near a shoe store. 
There will also be Player Encounters, where they can face off against current NBA athletes. Niantic tells Digital Trends that classic athletes aren't currently in the game, but feels that idea "is a good one." 

In Player Encounters, users face off against athletes in one of four minigames: 3-Point Shootout, Beat the Clock, Around the World, and First-to-Five. While they feature some impressive and realistic animation for a mobile game, Niantic says these minigames only use simple swipe controls because the studio wanted to make something that is easy to play while someone is walking around their neighborhood. If a user wins a Player Encounter, they can recruit that athlete to their team, customize them with items found at Drop Zones, and upgrade them by playing with them. Players can also challenge players they already recruited again to earn more currency. 
The title also includes "Rule the Court" neighborhood leaderboards, many of which are placed at real-world basketball courts, where players can compete for the highest score. Currently, there are no player-versus-player elements in NBA All-World, although Niantic understands players like competitive modes in their sports games and may add them in the future. In fact, many features are still in the pipeline for post-launch updates, including Niantic's trademark AR support. Early in the second quarter of 2023, Niantic plans on adding AR support to NBA All-World to enhance the loot drops from Drop Zones to make it look like they're happening in the real world.
One thing that will be in the game at launch is microtransactions, which Niantic says will be similar to the ones available in its other games and allow players to increase their athletes' stats with Offense, Defense, and Fitness boosts. 
Despite the undeniable success of Pokémon Go, Niantic has never been able to completely replicate its success with games like Harry Potter: Wizards Unite or Pikmin Bloom. However, the studio seems confident that basketball has the global mass appeal to make NBA All-World another massive hit for the company. The early footage we saw of the game does leave us optimistic for NBA All-World's prospects, but we'll ultimately have to wait and see if the game will make it past its rookie season. 
NBA All-World is available now for iOS and Android.

Read more