These Lebanese women are playing Pokémon Go, but you can't play it in France. Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP
The augmented reality game from Californian firm Niantic hides fictional creatures on a map of your local area, then uses your smartphone’s GPS to track your movement around the map as you attempt to hunt the animals in question.
The game launched on 6th July in the US, Australia and New Zealand and is now available in 31 European countries. It had been due to launch in France last Friday, but it is now expected to be launched on Wednesday or Thursday this week, according to L’Express.
The Pokémon Company’s PR agency in France told Le Monde that the launch had been delayed “as a mark of respect towards the French people during this period of national mourning.”
It was also suggested by French gaming site IGN that there were fears the game could cause crowds to gather in inappropriate places at a time of heightened tension.
The concern about crowds is caused by the fact that all users see the same Pokémon in the same area, meaning the appearance of rarer types can lead to mass gatherings in one spot. There is also the possibility of user v user battles, where caught Pokémon square-off against one another in order to score points for their owners, so unlike most computer games, interaction with the real world and other users around you is key.
Pokémon are reported to have attracted gamers and their phones to inappropriate places including the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, the 9/11 monument at Ground Zero in New York and numerous cemeteries in Australia. In New York’s Central Park, a large crowd was reported to have gathered after a rare Pokémon, a Vaporeon, was said to have been spotted there.