Niantic mulls Pokemon 'no-go' request

Niantic mulls Pokemon 'no-go' request

NBTC awaits response on forbidden zones

A sign at a school in Bangkok asks smartphone users to turn off the AR (augmented reality) mode needed to play 'Pokemon Go'. The state has asked the game's creator to set 'no-go zones' for players.WICHAN CHAROENKIATPAKUL
A sign at a school in Bangkok asks smartphone users to turn off the AR (augmented reality) mode needed to play 'Pokemon Go'. The state has asked the game's creator to set 'no-go zones' for players.WICHAN CHAROENKIATPAKUL

Pokemon Go developer Niantic is likely to consider a request submitted by Thai authorities to remove sensitive locations from the game's scope in Thailand, says the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

The regulator sent an e-letter last Thursday demanding that the US-based firm set four "no-go zones" for players in Thailand.

It said the developer must not place Pokemon characters and items around state property, private property, religious sites and dangerous areas.

"We believe Niantic is likely to respond to our e-mail request on Wednesday, with a positive response," said NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith.

"We're ready to discuss the details if there is a concrete response," he added.

But Mr Takorn stressed that the NBTC has no intention of intervening in the Pokemon business. The regulator is also unsure if it has the legal authority to ban the location-based Pokemon Go game in Thailand.

He also said that True Corporation has supported the NBTC by urging Niantic to set four no-go zones for Thailand.

In Thailand, True, through its subsidiary True Content and Media, won the rights in 2014 to exclusively sell Pokemon items and develop a localised version of Pokemon video games with characters and themes unique to the country.

Suphachai Chearavanont, True's chief executive officer, said he personally believed Niantic would understand the NBTC's request and come up with a positive resolution that would allow all parties and players in Thailand to safely play Pokemon Go.

He said True plans to launch its localised version of Pokemon Go by the fourth quarter of this year in order to further capitalise on the increase in mobile internet usage.

The company plans to introduce a series of attractive promotional tariff packages, tailored especially for Pokemon Go players.

Mr Suphachai said True has proposed its own business model and marketing strategy for marketing Pokemon Go in Thailand. The company is waiting for Niantic to approve its final business and marketing plans.

Mr Suphachai added that True is just a gaming service provider, not the owner or creator of Pokemon Go.

"We cannot single out or remove any Pokemon characters from the game as it is under the auspices of Nianti," he said.

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