Pokémon Go, a ludicrously-popular augmented reality game that superimposes Pokémon caricatures onto player’s screens dependent on geographic location, has faced frequent technical issues since the app was released in the US, New Zealand and Australia last week.
The designer behind the game — Niantic Labs — does not intend to release the game in any other countries until the server can handle the massive amounts of people already attempting to use their geographic coordinates to play the game.
This unfortunately means that Pokémon crazed fans in China are unable to access the game, unless they go to some extraordinary lengths.
Some have attempted to get around the restriction by changing the region setting on their iPhone or even by buying Apple IDs that are registered in countries where the game can be played. Both of these novel attempts have not been met with any real success.
Players in restricted countries are able to download the app, customize their personal avatar and select a starter Pokémon. However, as soon as they attempt to actually enter the virtual world, they are left disappointed, surrounded only by a barren map, void of any Pokemon to catch.
While Nintendo can’t stop people living in restricted countries from downloading their game, it can block GPS signals coming from China.
Desperate fans are still searching for a big enough loophole that will let them play the game. One third-party site that sells fake San Francisco locations has become popular in the Chinese gaming community, Quartz reports.
While attaining a fake location allows gamers to explore a virtual reality, that virtual reality is not representative of where they currently are — in China — but instead sojurns them through unfamiliar American landmarks.
Additionally, Niantic Labs has made it clear that “using tools or techniques to alter or falsify your location” might lead to suspension or termination of your account.
Another answer to these urgent desires to play Pokémon Go is to download a Chinese knockoff version by the name of “City Spirit Go.” Quite a few already have, TechinAsia reports that the game has become the top downloaded free game on the Chinese iOS App Store.
“City Spirit Go” duplicates many of the features found in “Pokémon Go.” The biggest drawback is that it doesn’t place players in an augmented reality. However, the game is still location-based and requires that players move around in order to capture “Pokémon.”
There are also a slew of competing copycat versions for the discerning Chinese mobile user to download and try. Still, even with this wealth of options, Chinese fans yearn for unrestricted access to the real thing.
By Robin Winship
[Images via TechInAsia / Quartz / Sixth Tone]