Pokémon Go lands in Singapore with police warning

Following weeks of speculation that the game may be banned, Pokémon Go finally has gone live in the city-state, but not without some words of caution from local authorities.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

After weeks of intense speculation that the game may be banned, Pokémon Go finally is available in Singapore via Google Play Store and Apple App Store, sparking a flurry of frenzied chasing as well as a warning from the local police.

The game's official Facebook page on Saturday unveiled 15 new countries in which it could be downloaded, including several Southeast Asian markets such as Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

In Singapore, Pokémon characters were up for grab in numerous locations including hawker centres, bus interchanges, and shopping malls.

Already downloaded by millions across the globe, the augmented reality mobile game had enjoyed an astronomical rise in popularity since its launch last month, pushing Nintendo's stock up 70 percent after its release. Developed by Niantic, the game is based on Nintendo's popular Pokémon franchise.

Amid its rising popularity, and immense commercial potential, the location-based app faced criticisms over its disregard for personal privacy and impact on public safety, following reports of accidents and mugging.

Concerns about the game's potential influence prompted Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim to say it should not negatively impact lifestyles or the way things were done in the city-state.

"We have to study very, very carefully whatever is brought into Singapore," Yaacob had told local reporters. "We will monitor the situation, how this particular game is being played, and...its impact on society."

The minister added that if it was "something which we should be concerned about", the industry regulator would have to decide on "what are the things we can do best, if the game is really needed here".

His statements triggered speculation that the game could face a ban in Singapore. For now, at least, this had turned out otherwise.

Local law enforcement, however, quickly issued a Facebook post Saturday cautioning the public to mind their own safety and detailing guidelines on how to "enjoy the game safely". "The Pokémon Go craze has seen reports of accidents, injuries, and even crimes in countries where it has already been launched," it said.

Among its directions were advice to "play in pairs or as a group", "watch where you are walking", and to refrain from playing the game while driving a vehicle. "Do not trespass onto restricted areas and private properties. Do not take pictures of restricted areas. Be aware that you are potentially sharing data with others," the police added.

Editorial standards