Thailand Plans No-Go Zones for Pokémon Go
Thailand will make places such as the Royal Palace grounds, Buddhist temples and hospitals off limits to players of Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s wildly popular augmented reality game Pokémon Go, the Thai telecoms regulator said on Tuesday.
The measures come after the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) met with five telecoms operators to discuss safety measures and the preservation of landmarks, Takorn Tantasith, secretary general of the NBTC, told a news conference.
The five operators are Advanced Info Service Pcl., Total Access Communication Pcl., True Corp and two state telecom firms, TOT Pcl. and CAT Telecom.
True, the master licensee to manage Pokémon's content in Thailand, will ask Niantic Inc., the game's developer, to withdraw locations including government buildings and private areas from the game, Takorn said.
"We agree that we should withdraw some places that could be dangerous such as roads, walkways, riverside and other important places from the game," he said.
Pokémon Go, which marries a classic 20-year-old franchise with augmented reality, has become an instant hit globally.
Using mobile devices, players search for virtual Pokémon characters that appear to pop up at office spaces, restaurants, museums and other places.
But the game has been blamed for a rash of car accidents and a slew of mishaps stemming from distracted players.
The regulator will also discuss the possibility of limiting playing time in Thailand, Takorn said, adding that all operators will distribute manuals about how to play online games safely, warnings and how to buy items in games.
Thailand is one of the fastest growing mobile game markets in Southeast Asia thanks to the rising popularity of smartphones and the recent launch of high speed 4G mobile services.
(Reporting by Manunphattr Dhanananphorn; Writing by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Louise Heavens)