Pokémon Go may be one of the most popular mobile games of 2016 and 2017, thanks in part to its enormous hype during the summer of 2016. But one major superpower is moving towards avoiding the Pokémon craze altogether. Pokémon Go, along with other augmented reality mobile titles, may not come to China due to major “potential security risks” that AR games grant, as Reuters reports.
China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio Film and Television, the state’s censor body, is “coordinating with other government departments to evaluate the game’s risks,” as Chinese officials felt a “high level of responsibility to national security and the safety of people’s lives and property” to evaluate the game’s risks upon reviewing the mobile title’s gameplay.
The games panel of the censor-governed China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association argued that Pokémon Go presents a “threat to geographical information security and the threat to transport and the personal safety of consumers,” according to a post from the association. In short, China is worried about players hurting themselves or divulging Chinese governmental and military secrets. Although the game hasn’t been officially barred from Chinese markets, the government requires time to seek out and evaluate national security risks before choosing to (or not to) license the game.
Pokémon Go‘s developer, Niantic, would face a huge blow if their game failed to land in Chinese markets. China is easily the biggest mobile gaming market on the planet, with online gaming and handheld play traditionally drawing in consumers. If the company is able to sell microtransactions in China, the game would bring in an enormous amount of revenue. Likewise, China’s decision will also dictate whether augmented reality titles will be supported (or denied) in Chinese markets. Suffice to say, the state censor’s decision could impact virtual and augmented reality development for years to come.