Niantic Labs have been making gobs of money on Pokemon Go. They've released the game in most major gaming territories around the world, save for China. And, sadly, for Chinese gamers, Pokemon Go may never release in the region.
According to Reuters, the mobile version of the popular monster catching series may not ever see the light of day in China due to the fact that it relies on geolocation data in order to provide gamers with real-time updates and info for catching Pokemon. China doesn't like this one bit. In fact, Pokemon Go relies on infrastructure provided by Google Maps to map out the game world and provide gamers with all sorts of interesting locations to visit and Pokemon to capture.
The problem is that China feels as if this is a security risk. They already have Google Maps banned in the region for putting eyes on locations that they feel shouldn't be readily accessible or made available to the public. Pokemon Go operates in much the same way, and the China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association felt as if this would make the app a security information threat, along with another problem: transport and personal safety hazards.
For those of you who may not keep up with Pokemon Go news, all throughout 2016 there were reports about people having bike accidents while playing game. There were a couple of car accidents, one involving a cop, and another fatal. And, there were various incidents involving people stumbling upon dead bodies while playing the game. Now, most people have stated that it's not Pokemon Go's fault for some people getting into frightening incidents, such as finding a deceased person, while playing the game, but governmental bodies in different parts of the world have felt differently about that. In particular, China's Ministry of Culture has not been particularly fond of the potential health hazards, along with the fact that there's still the whole security risk aspect to deal with.
China, in fact, hasn't even been the only country to deny Pokemon Go access in the region. Iran also denied the game acceptance in their country for the exact same reasons as China: security concerns.
The thing is, this isn't just a Pokemon Go problem. Other imitators have been popping up, including small companies in China looking to cash in on the popularity of Nintendo's property, but they're also being denied release for the same reasons as Pokemon Go. The issue has been important enough to have the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television coordinate with the top licensing bodies in China in order to discover a reasonable solution and seek advice for the problem.
On one hand, the Chinese government is obviously concerned with security issues in the country and having that information broadcast to the public, but on the other hand there's also the matter of giving up major revenue opportunities by denying these games a release opportunity within the region.
One might think that a reasonable solution would be for Niantic and other companies to simply block out military locations in the app. But then that would mean China would have to give them the locations to block out, and that in itself becomes a security concern. There doesn't appear to be an easy solution around this problem, but China does seem intent on finding some middle ground. Until then, Pokemon Go isn't allowed in the region.