Will smash hit ‘Pokemon Go’ launch in S. Korea?

The Korean release of "Pokemon Go" may be more complicated, if not impossible, given a number of regulatory hurdles that must be cleared before the game can be launched.

Nintendo's augmented-reality smartphone game has been taking the world by storm, but many anxious Pokemon fans in South Korea have been left wondering: When will the game officially launch here in Korea?

"Pokemon Go," released in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand last week, is a GPS-based mobile game that involves users running through real-life city streets, parks and other locations to capture virtual monsters, such as the all-famous character Pikachu, via their smartphones.

It uses a technology known as augmented reality, which overlays (or augments) digital images with a person's view of the real world through a phone's camera. Users can discover and capture Pokemon characters that can be found by visiting locations marked on the smartphone's map.

The wildly popular mobile app is currently unavailable in South Korea, as is the case with most other countries around the world. As of now, the game's co-developers - Nintendo-owned Pokemon Co. and Niantic, Inc., a spinoff from Google's parent Alphabet - have paused its international release to stabilize its heated servers.

Pokemon Korea, the Korean branch of the Japan-based Pokemon Co., which would be in charge of the game's local release if it were to happen, told The Korea Herald that "nothing has been decided yet."

We cannot say it will or will not happen at this point, as we have yet to reach a decision (on whether to launch 'Pokemon Go' here)," said Pokemon Korea's spokesperson Kim Kyung-mi.

While the game is reportedly slated to roll out in Asia and Europe soon, its Korean release may be more complicated, if not impossible, given a number of regulatory hurdles that must be cleared before the game can launch here.

A key issue for the game's operator is a South Korean law that restricts U.S. internet giant Google's map services from fully operating here, making it difficult for Google Maps-dependent games like "Pokemon Go" to function in the country.

For example, an iPhone user in South Korea can download the game from the phone's U.S.-based app store, but no Pokemon creatures appear as it is unable to properly sync with the phone's GPS system.

Source: China Post

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