No go for Pokemon Go as Chinese officials investigate security risks
Millions of Chinese people will just have to wait
Shanghai — China will not let its big mobile online population play Pokemon Go or other augmented-reality games until it has assessed the security risks, says a Chinese digital publishing group.
That roadblock was put up amid concerns that such games entail "rather big social risks", including threats to consumer and traffic safety, and the security of "geographic information", the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association said this week.
The association said China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) told it about the move, saying it was conducting a security review of games in the meantime.
"Before then, SAPPRFT will not accept requests to approve such games and has advised domestic game developers to be cautious when considering developing, introducing or operating such games," the association said.
Pokemon Go engages mobile users in a virtual chase for cartoon creatures appearing in their vicinity, as seen through their phone camera, but relies for many of its functions on Google Maps, which is blocked in China. Beijing keeps tight control over surveying, mapping and geographic information.
China is a huge potential market for gamers, with 1.3-billion mobile users by the end of 2015.
Some Chinese companies are already getting into the act, with tech giants Alibaba and Tencent recently launching augmented-reality games with a theme linked to the Chinese lunar new year holidays beginning in late January.
It was not clear how the digital-publishing association’s announcement would effect those games.