Bad news for the gaming community in Thailand: government officials might ban the widely popular app Pokemon Go if Niantic, the U.S.-based company which is developing the game will not comply with government demands.
Thai national telecom regulator wants the devs to impose “no-go” areas in Thailand, with the stated purpose of forbidding players to go into dangerous or restricted areas. Among the former are roads, waterways and railways, while the latter encompasses state properties, temples and other private zones.
“We will give Niantic until next Wednesday (Aug 17). If the company fails to comply with our request, we might consider harsh restrictions by banning Pokemon,” said NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith.
Pokemon Go was released in Thailand on Saturday, the 6th of August, and in just a couple of days reports of players entering sensitive areas while hunting for Pikachu and other top-tier Pokemon began piling up on the officials’ desks. The situation was dire enough to prompt a reaction from Thailand’s head of government.
“What makes me worry is the safety of the players. They could face possible dangers such as robbery or rape if they play Pokemon Go in deserted or inappropriate areas,” said on Wednesday Prayut Chan-o-cha, the country’s prime minister.
However, individuals have the right to play the game, added the Prime Minister. A request was sent to the Information and Communication Technology Ministry, which was tasked to investigate whether there were technical possibilities to ban the app from government locations.
Just one month after its U.S. launch, Pokemon Go became available on Saturday in Thailand and another 15 countries from Southeast Asia. Hundreds of young people rushed outside with only one goal in mind: to catch all the Pokemon.
“It was unexpected because all we heard is, like … they said September. We didn’t know — my friend just messaged this morning, like, ‘It’s on the app store, guys!” said Arjun, a 17-year-old Bangkok resident.
The augmented reality game is available in nearly 70 countries and uses smartphone cameras to superimpose Pokemon in real world settings. The app has brought thousands of people outside, roaming around neighborhoods while fixated on their screens – and not on their surroundings – on a quest to capture the creatures.