Although there was no official announcement to clue us in, the general consensus was that Pokémon Go was going to launch Wednesday in Japan, the birthplace of the franchise. However, while we can confirm that that was the plan at one point, it’s now been canceled following a leaked email between developer Niantic and launch partner McDonald’s.
The delay apparently spurred a 13 percent drop in Nintendo’s share price, though it still sits at more than 85 percent of what it was just a few weeks ago.
Pokémon Go’s augmented-reality gameplay has taken the world by storm, attracting millions of players on both iOS and Android platforms. Gamers are selling accounts for cold, hard cash and even real estate agents are touting monster sightings to boost sales.
But none of that is happening in Japan, because the game isn’t available there yet. And now it may not be for a while longer. While it emerged that a Wednesday launch was indeed planned, TechCrunch reports that it was pushed back following the email leak on internet forums that confirmed McDonald’s involvement as a launch partner.
The subsequent hype that the impending launch generated is why Niantic felt the need to push it back. It feared that the servers wouldn’t be able to cope with the influx of new players.
Related: Ready to become a ‘Pokémon Go’ master? Our ultimate tips guide
It’s now unknown when the game will launch, though considering the original plan was to do so before the end of July, it could show up at some point within the next few days, and almost certainly within the next week.
Japan has traditionally had one of the strongest Pokémon audiences in the world, so it seems likely that when Pokémon Go is released there, fans will lap it up. With a population just shy of 130 million people, it’s quite a large market for Nintendo.
Digital Trends has reached out to Niantic and will update this piece when we hear back.
Pushing back the launch to try and make sure there’s enough server capacity could be a smart move. When Pokémon Go debuted in markets such as the U.S., fans were hit with repeated log-in problems, crashes, and outages as the servers struggled to cope with the massive influx of players. In just two weeks, more than 10 million people have logged on to the app in the U.S. alone, so it seems likely that many millions will attempt to do the same in Japan when Pokémon Go becomes available.
Related: 5 great location-based games that aren’t ‘Pokémon Go’
Whenever it does occur, the launch there will also act as a prototype for future cooperation between companies. Nintendo has reportedly struck a deal with McDonald’s to turn many of its 3,000 outlets in the country into Pokémon Gyms, encouraging players to congregate there and potentially eat and drink while battling.
If it proves successful, expect that sort of collaboration to be replicated in many more countries and outlets around the world.
Updated: 07/20/2016, added update on Japanese release – Jon Martindale
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