Pokémon Go finally goes live in Japan with McDonald’s the first sponsored location


Pokémon Go has finally launched in Japan, the land where Pokémania began. McDonald’s is the game’s first sponsor in a deal which, as we reported earlier this week, turns the fast food firm’s 3,000 stores in the country into Pokémon Go “gyms”.

The launch has been a long while coming for Japanese fans to say the least. The smash hit title first went live in the U.S. over two weeks ago, before coming to most of Europe and Canada last week. That’s left many Japanese fans disappointed at having to watch without being able to join in the fun.

Even today’s launch hasn’t been without drama. The game has been ready to launch in Japan for days now, as we previously reported, but internal disagreement and a leak held things up. On Tuesday, we reported that the game would debut on Wednesday and that seemed the case right up until the eleven hour when a leaked email from McDonald’s made Niantic, Nintendo and the Pokémon Company change their mind. A source close to the launch told TechCrunch that the Wednesday release time was originally 9:00 am before being pushed back to 2:00 pm and then canceled altogether.

That’s all in the past now, and today’s release also coincides with school holidays in Japan — very deliberately, you’d suspect — which is only likely to give the game a further boost. The big question will be whether the servers, which are already inconsistent for many users across the world, can handle the strain of Japan’s Pokémon addicts piling in.

The success of Pokémon Go, which has overtaken the likes of Twitter and Tinder on active user numbers, has seen Nintendo’s valuation double. This week’s game delay saw Nintendo share price fall for the first time since Pokémon Go’s release, but, with the game now finally out on home soil, the gaming giant is sure to see its market cap rise up once again as its already impressive revenue is boosted both by a glut of new players and the McDonald’s deal.

McDonald’s is the first company to tie up with Pokémon Go, being a sponsored location could help drive customers to branches, and other deals in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere are expected and likely to be equally as lucrative.

What’s next for Pokémon Go now?

A source at Niantic told us that Japan would be the ‘halo’ launch in Asia, so we can likely expect that the game will rollout to other markets in the region over the coming week or so. We don’t have details of which ones and when, but Niantic has already suggested that China could be a tricky launch, so that one might be delayed. CEO John Hanke week on record last week saying that he wants the game to be live in 200 countries as soon as possible.

Thank you P’Watch for game screenshots

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