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'Pokémon GO' Finally Hits South Korea: Why So Late?

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The smash hit game of 2016, Pokémon GO, has finally reached South Korea after a long delay - six months to be precise.

Pokémon GO stirred a worldwide frenzy when it launched in the summer of 2016 and it proved to be the most popular mobile game ever, turning into a real social phenomenon that had millions and millions of people roaming the streets in search of pocket monsters.

While some have already grown tired of the game, others are just getting a taste of it. Fans in South Korea have long been waiting for the game to launch in their country and it has finally happened.

Pokémon GO South Korea Release

Starting today, Pokémon GO fans in South Korea can download the game from Google Play or Apple's App Store and start their adventure hunting down the elusive critters.

"South Korea's bustling cities and rolling green hills filled with history highly complement the exploration, exercise, and social aspects of Pokémon GO," touts the official announcement. "With its robust technology infrastructure, South Korea has one of the strongest gaming communities in the world, with a large population of dedicated Pokémon fans. We are especially excited that they will now be able to explore their world with Pokémon GO."

Why So Late?

It took so long for Pokémon GO to finally become available in South Korea because the augmented reality game relies on Google Maps, which is restricted in the country because of safety concerns. The mapping restrictions made it problematic for the game to launch in South Korea, but the issue has finally been resolved.

Google's parent company, Alphabet, has long been trying to get its mapping service approved on Korean soil, but without much success. Nevertheless, Pokémon GO creator Niantic apparently found an alternative to make it work for all parties involved. The company did not offer many details regarding the workaround it found, but Niantic art director Dennis Hwang says the solution involves "various publicly accessible data resources."

Is It Worth It?

Launching Pokémon GO in South Korea was undoubtedly no easy task and several hurdles had to be overcome, so some can't help but wonder whether it was all worth it.

On that note, it's worth pointing out that South Korea is one of the most lucrative gaming markets in the world, so it definitely has the potential to increase the appeal of Pokémon GO even if the game has lost steam in other markets.

According to analyst firm Newzoo, there are more than 25 million gamers in South Korea and the "annual average spend per paying gamer is among the highest in the world." Mobile gaming is dominant in the country and Newzoo expects $2 billion in revenue from mobile gaming alone this year.

Pokémon GO could see a great boost with its new availability in South Korea, but it's too early to tell. The game has just launched in the country and no figures are available yet to gauge its success, but we'll keep you up to date as soon as we learn more.

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