Pokemon Go cheaters receive lifetime bans

Game developer Niantic clamps down on third-party apps accused of 'breaking' the game

(Image credit: Yoshikazu Tsuno/Getty Images)

Pokemon Go: When is it coming to the UK and why is it causing chaos?

11 June

What is Pokemon Go?

Pokemon Go is a new free-to-download mobile game available on iOS and Android devices that is taking mobile app stores by storm. The game relies on the Pokemon series's themes of exploration – capturing and battling – but the technology within your smartphone introduces a new way to do it.

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Go tracks your location and places you as an avatar on a real world map, so to hunt down Pokemon and find other features like PokeStops and gyms, you need to move around in the real world – in your neighbourhood and further afield – alongside others doing exactly the same.

When a player encounters a Pokemon, it can be caught in augmented reality – the phone's camera places the creature in the real world via your device's screen.

As The Wrap explains, the potentially huge scale of the game combined with its already large player base means that the virtual scavenger hunt has become a sort of "universal icebreaker" – players routinely bump into each other at places of interest, and "it's an excuse to talk to people and make new acquaintances".

It is, however, also causing problems.

Why is it causing carnage?

The mixed reality aspect of the game has led to some early, unintended consequences. Criminals have been exploiting the game and its players, and the players themselves have become a nuisance in the minds of many.

The Guardian reports on two of the most high profile incidents so far – an instance where armed robbers used the app's geolocation function to lure victims into a trap, and another instance where a 19-year-old girl was led to a dead body in a river, while trying to catch a water Pokemon.

Players are also turning up in unwelcome places. As The Independent points out, one homeowner has been suffering waves of wannabe Pokemon trainers loitering outside his property after his house was mistakenly labelled as a powerful Pokemon gym.

The paper says that in places with strong private property laws, trespassing could become a problem with potentially "deadly consequences" for players.

The Sun has picked up on some of the teething problems the game is experiencing. People are injuring themselves, for example, by paying more attention to their pocket monsters than their surroundings, and the game has become a nuisance for public services marked out as key locations, such as an Australian police station inundated by players.

When is it coming to the UK?

Niantic, the game's developers, have announced that an official UK release of the game is being delayed until the company is confident that it will launch and play smoothly for all who download it.

Presently the game is out in the US and Australia, but it has become a victim of its own success. It only launched on July 6 but it has become wildly popular – so popular that the overwhelming number of players is actually breaking the game.

The many people wanting to catch Pokemon in the real world through their phones is causing the game's servers to crash. Many players who have downloaded it in the US and Australia can't play at all – instead they receive an error message.

If you're still determined to play, The Independent says it's possible to get your hands on the game now if you use an iPhone. By signing out of your Apple ID and changing language and region to US on settings, it will bring up the US version of the app store when launched, allowing you to download the app right now.

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