Rumors are swirling online that a Middle Kingdom release of Pokemon Go may be on the near horizon after several ‘wild’ Pokemon, as well as two PokeStops and a Gym were discovered by a visiting American gamer earlier this month in Taiyuan, Shanxi.
According to International Business Times, a resident of Albany, New York, named Eric Ji opened the Pokemon Go app on August 6 while visiting the city, and was surprised to see that Rattata, Spinarak and Vulpix were nearby.
Ji posted on Reddit that he had launched the game a day earlier and noted there were no 'pocket monsters' on the map then.
"During the month long trip at Taiyuan, China: this was the first time any sign of life was discovered on the map," stated Ji, according to IB Times. "The map previously had roads and buildings but there were no Pokemon, PokeStops, or Gyms."
Oddly, the three Pokemon, as well as the PokeStops and Gym, disappeared from the app about an hour after being discovered by Ji. The gamer also wrote that the app’s GPS function and map details were not operating correctly.
Despite all this, fans are optimistic that the game will be soon available in China, according to Game Rant.
Some netizens have pointed out that sporadic Pokemon Go functionality was also reported in Japan and India three weeks before the game’s official launch in those countries.
A screenshot from a Pokemon Go user in Fuzhou
Other Reddit users have reported similar experiences while accessing Pokemon Go in China over the past couple weeks. According to a post published on the social media site 10 days ago, a friend of Reddit user massivecoffeemaker was able to access the game in Fuzhou, Fujian province.
A Farfetch'd captured in Zhuhai
If the reports from Reddit users and the alleged three week ‘trial period’ experience in other nations are real, then it is possible we may see a Pokemon Go launch in China by the end of August.
Developed and published by American software development company Niantic, Pokemon Go has been downloaded more than 500 million times globally since its release and was hailed as one of the biggest app launches of 2016. Unfortunately for China's Pokemon fanatics, the game has not received a warm welcome in the People’s Republic, with authorities banning the game back in January due to "security concerns."
According to comicbook.com, Pokemon Go developers have refrained (perhaps up until recently) from unlocking any Pokemon spawns, PokeStops, or gyms on the Chinese mainland in an effort to comply with local laws.
Considering that China has an estimated 366 million mobile gamers, a release of Pokemon Go in the country would likely mean a major payday for Niantic, who have already pulled in over USD1 billion in revenue from Pokemon Go.