Pokemon GO has over 500 million players and is available in most countries around the world. But the popular mobile game has been banned in China up until now.
In a new interview, John Hanke, the CEO of Pokemon GO developer Niantic, said that “We absolutely intend to bring our existing games into China. Beyond that, there are opportunities to build games in China, both for China and for the world.”
Pokemon GO will be released in China in 2018, though there is no specific release date yet. Hanke also explained that Niantic’s servers are “so much better positioned” than they were when the game first launched in 2016. This should hopefully mean that they can cope even as millions of Chinese players begin to play the game.
In order to launch the game in China Niantic will be partnering with NetEase, the Chinese Internet technology company that was founded in 1997. Chinese law demands that foreign companies like Niantic team up with Chinese firms in order to launch their digital products in the country.
However, while Niantic has cleared this barrier, it’s unclear how the developer was able to overcome other concerns held by Chinese regulators. Chinese authorities previously suggested that Pokemon GO poses a safety risk to its citizens, banning the game as a potential threat to national security, people’s lives, and property.
Hanke also discussed the company’s recent Series B funding round, during which it raised $200 million. Led by Spark Capital, NetEase was one of the investors during this round. Niantic has admitted that its revenues during 2017 were not as strong as they were following Pokemon GO‘s launch in 2016 but the huge investment suggests that investors believe it can get its finances back on track.
The Chinese launch of Pokemon GO and the $200 million investment mean big things for Niantic and its future. For example, it could mean that its Harry Potter AR game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, could launch in China too. That would grow the developer’s fanbase even more and could potentially make that game even more successful than Pokemon GO.
Meanwhile, the investment will allow Niantic to keep growing its technology, building bigger and better features and games. The developer may also be interested in acquiring more companies (it purchased social developer Evertoon last year) to help bolster its titles. Niantic is going to have a major 2018, so watch this space.
Pokemon GO is available now for Android and iOS devices.
Source: Financial Times