Pokémon Go finally coming to China, courtesy of NetEase
Niantic signs partnership with Chinese publisher, location-based phenomenon to launch in second half of 2018
Chinese mobile users will finally be able to see what all the fuss was about in 2016 when Pokémon Go launches in the East later this year.
The Financial Times reports that Niantic has secured a partnership with Chinese publisher NetEase to bring the mobile smash hit to the region in the second half of the year.
The news follows just one year on from the revelation that Pokémon Go had been banned from a Chinese release due to concerns around national security and public safety.
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, which rules which foreign digital products may be released to Chinese audiences, said it acted based on a "threat to geographical information security and the threat to transport and the personal safety of consumers."
While this ruling is in large part due to China's famously tight control on which online products can be accessed in the region, it also followed within six months of Pokémon Go's launch, which was tainted somewhat by stories of avid players trespassing on private property, playing while driving and even walking off cliffs as they concentrated on their phone.
Niantic has since made several tweaks and added various warning messages to the game in order to prevent such things from happening. It is also much easier to release a Western title in China with the help of an established local publisher - hence the NetEase partnership.
According to the BBC, the studio's CEO John Hanke said that the sharp drop-off of active players since Pokémon Go's launch has not prevented the game retaining a "solid" core of users who still interact regularly.
He added that the initial success of the launch, plus a recent $200m funding round, has given Niantic the means to expand and entering China, the world's largest mobile market, can only capitalise on this.
Niantic recently announced that it is also working on an augmented reality Harry Potter game.