China says no — for now — to ‘Pokémon Go,’ cites potential security risks

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.

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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.