Chinese Pokémon fans are desperate to get their hands on Pokémon Go and are trying anything possible to play it — even if that means playing a knockoff version of the game.
Pokémon Go, the widely-popular augmented reality game that has been flooding your Facebook news feed, was recently launched in the U.S., New Zealand and Australia, but not in China.
Nintendo and Niantic Labs, the developer behind the app, won’t be releasing Pokémon Go in any other countries in the meantime. The millions of users who have signed up are overwhelming their servers which are trying to keep up with pinpointing players’ geographic locations so that they can catch Pokémon in the park across the street.
Sadly, Chinese Pokémon fans will have to be patient, but there is always another way.
Unsurprisingly, a Chinese knock-off game, “City Spirit Go,” that very much resembles Pokémon Go, has been a hit in the Chinese iOS App Store. Though it doesn’t use an augmented reality, the free game is location-based, meaning it requires users to move around to find its cloned Pokémon creatures. The main character of City Spirit Go is a yellow Pikachu-like creature with purple eyes.
While the game is free, in-app purchases can cost users up to $97 for the diamond package. According to Tech in Asia, City Spirit Go was launched a few weeks after Nintendo began beta testing in Japan by developer Xiaoyu Sun.
According to Shanghaiist, players in restricted countries are able to download the app and customize their personal avatar. They’re even able to choose a starter Pokémon, but it’s a total tease because once they enter the virtual world, there’s nothing there — no Pokémon to catch. Hopeful players are met with an empty Pokémon-less world.
A number of people have tried to bypass the restriction by switching the region setting on their phones. Others have resorted to purchasing Apple IDs that are registered in countries where Pokémon Go is accessible. Quartz reported that a third-party site that sells false San Francisco locations has grown in popularity among gamers in China.
Despite these attempts, crazed Chinese Pokémon fans have not yet achieved any major successes. Players who register under a fake location are able to enter a virtual reality, but it isn’t representative of their actual location in China. So while they may be navigating their way through China in reality, the game may show confusing American locations.
Nintendo hasn’t been able to stop users from restricted countries from downloading Pokémon Go. However, they are able to block GPS signals from China. Niantic Labs has also stated that “using tools or techniques to alter or falsify your location” may block users from their account.
For the lucky countries that have unrestricted access to play, here are some tips and tricks to catching them all. Pokémon Go has exploded in popularity since its release, but few are aware of the data privacy concerns since they’re too busy figuring out how to cheat the game.