China’s state censor has refused to license “Pokémon Go” and other augmented reality games until the potential security risks have been evaluated. The Nintendo game, which was recently licensed in India, seems to have been denied entry to China — the world’s biggest smartphone and online gaming market.
The Chinese censor —the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television has cited “a high level of responsibility to national security and the safety of people’s lives and property,” and “threat to geographical information security and the threat to transport and the personal safety of consumers,” as the reason for not licensing the game. It further added that it was coordinating with other government departments to evaluate the game’s risks.
“Pokémon Go” is a location-based augmented reality game in which players must walk in real-life surroundings to capture virtual characters using their smartphone screens.
The game hasn’t had a smooth run though. Despite its popularity, it has been blamed for causing accidents, some of which turned out to be fatal. Since it requires players to look at their smartphone displays, it sometimes takes attention away from real-world tasks such as crossing a traffic signal.
The game has also raised data privacy concerns since it uses geolocation maps, but Nintendo hasn’t disclosed what it does with the user data. For China’s, it is a touchy matter, since the game uses Google’s location-based services globally, which are banned in China.