China is blocking the release of Pokémon Go pending an evaluation by authorities of the game’s potential security and safety risks, according to a new report.
The hit augmented reality game, developed by Niantic Labs, took the world by storm last year. But Pokémon Go has yet to be released in China, the world’s current largest smartphone and gaming market, due to state censors, according to Mashable.
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television said that “a high level of responsibility to national security and the safety of people’s lives and property” prompted them to deny licensing the game until they — in coordination with other Chinese government entities — can evaluate the proposed risks, Reuters reported.
Those risks include the game’s ostensible “threat to geographical information security and the threat to transport and the personal safety of consumers,” according to the website of a panel of the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association, an organization governed by the state censor.
The threat to “personal safety” portion of that statement does ring true, however, as Pokémon Go has allegedly been responsible for a slew of car crashes, accidents, and crimes. Still, it’s likely that the geo-mapping system that Pokémon Go relies on is one of the primary reasons that the game is being blocked by the state, as government bodies are likely still skeptical of foreign companies having access to geographical data, Forbes reported.
Not that consumers in China haven’t tried to experience the game for themselves. Beyond downloading knock-offs like City Elves Go, many users in the country have resorted to other methods of obtaining the smartphone game — including buying Apple IDs registered in other countries.
But even then, Chinese users won’t be able to actually play the game. Pokémon Go relies on Google services — like Google Maps — for its location data. Google’s services are currently blocked in the country, and Niantic hasn’t announced any plans for developing an alternative system for use in China.
Pokémon Go isn’t the only app being blocked, either. Other augmented reality-based apps are subject to the same ban by state censors.