Pokemon Go Sensation Sweeps Thailand
The trail-blazing app that has gamers all over the globe heading outside to see if they can “catch them all” is taking Thailand by storm. The game, based on the popular Pokemon cartoon and card game, has become a global phenomenon and is being received rapturously by smart phone users – both locals and tourists – across the Kingdom.
The App was first launched in Australia, New Zealand and the United States on July 6th, and became available to users in Thailand to download in early August via Google Play and the IOS app store. Early reports had suggested that the game was not due to be released in the Kingdom until September, however makers of the game, Niantic, surprised keen gamers across Southeast Asia with the following Tweet in early August:
“The game has also been released in Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau”.
Pokemon Go has been an instant hit across Thailand. Some venues, including cafes, restaurants and bars are even offering promotions where guests can claim free food or drink if they find a Pokemon within the establishment. Thanks to its success, there has already been discussions of a collaboration between Niantic and the Tourism and Sports Ministry in which visitors will even be able to go on the hunt for Pokemon creatures in major tourist attractions. Should this plan go ahead, some of the Kingdom’s most treasured cultural sites could also become “Poke-stops”.
The idea behind this plan is to grow the number of visitors making their way to selected locations across the country, from restaurants to shopping malls and tourist attractions. Niantic have already announced a sponsorship with fast-food giant McDonalds in which no less than 400 of the McDonalds eateries in Japan are designated “gyms” where players can battle against one another on their phones. This collaboration is expected to be the first of many across the globe.
The spike in popularity of the Pokemon Go app is an indication of how well-connected Thailand is when it comes to digital platforms. The majority of restaurants and cafes – particularly those in tourist spots – all feature speedy Wi-Fi connections, enabling visitors to do everything from check their emails to play games. Even Bangkok’s popular public transport system – the Sky Train (BTS)– is set to introduce a Wi-Fi service so those that ride on trains can be constantly connected.