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Pokémon Go to go global ‘soon’ as hit game launches in three more countries

TechCrunch TechCrunch 15/07/2016 Jon Russell

Pokémon Go is already a phenomenon that has captured the attention of millions and added billions to Nintendo’s market cap, but the game itself remains limited to a handful of countries. There’s good news for wannabe players, then, with word that it most definitely harbors global expansion plans.

Niantic, the once-Google-owned company behind the game, said today that intends to expand the app to over 200 countries worldwide “relatively soon.”

“Why limit it?” John Hanke, Niantic’s CEO, said in an interview with Reuters.

Limited is indeed the world.

Right now, Pokémon Go is live in the U.S., UK, Australia, New Zealand and Germany, and today it expanded to three more countries in Europe: Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Users in some other countries have found ways to download it and get access to parts of the map unofficially, but generally speaking it is closed off. Millions of people are watching Pokémania explode without having a chance to sample it for themselves.

Yet still, Pokémon Go’s numbers have blasted any previous app phenomenon out of the water.

  • More daily users than Twitter
  • Higher engagement than Facebook
  • Estimated 7.5 million downloads in the U.S. alone
  • Estimated $1.6 million in revenue each day

The rush of interest has put a huge strain on the game’s servers, though, with many users suffering intermitted issues. That’s clearly a concern for any kind of extended global expansion, but Hanke assured that the company is bulking up its infrastructure accordingly.

Two notable markets to come are Japan, the home of Pokémon and the world’s most lucrative mobile games market, and Korea, another hugely valuable country where, also, Google’s maps service — which Pokémon Go relies on — isn’t fully supported due to local issues. Hanke didn’t give any specific details on either launch, other than that Japan will be soon (that word again!) and that the issues in Korea can be worked on.

China, the world’s largest smartphone market, would seem like another obvious launch. Reuters said the Niantic CEO was “reticent” on the country, pointing out that there are additional laws and points to consider. Indeed, that’s summed up neatly by reports of concern that Pokémon Go might be used for Japan, China’s long-standing friend-cum-foe, or the U.S. to work out the location of military bases in the country.

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