TrueMove to be ordered to set up Pokemon no-go zones

09 Aug 2016

Thailand’s telecom regulator has summoned Pokemon master license holder True for urgent meetings today (9 August) and will order True to communicate with the franchise holder to set up Pokemon no-go zones.

Dtac has confirmed it has also been summoned to give evidence about Pokemon to the NBTC. It is understood that AIS will also be present.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasit further said that Pokemon have been appearing in inappropriate places such as hospitals, monasteries and government offices and this has led to chaos as players enter to try and catch them.

Takorn said that Pokemon Go poses a threat to national security and has led to traffic mayhem.

Royal Thai Police deputy spokesperson Pol Col Krisana Patanacharoen has called Pokemon Go a national security risk with people entering secure government facilities to hunt down Pokemon. He also said that anyone caught playing the game while driving will be prosecuted and fined.

The only voice calling for reason came from Education Minister General Daopong Rattanasuwan. General Daopong said he would begin his own Pokemon Journey and play the game before passing judgement though he said it was unlikely he would order a ban on the game.

“If you do not play Pokemon Go yourself, you will not understand the game. I have heard it is good for exercise,” the general said, referring to the distances of up to 10 km trainers have to walk in order to hatch a Pokemon egg.

Earlier the Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat came out against Pokemon in religious and historic sites as inappropriate and Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said it was illegal to enter polling stations to catch Pokemon.

On the other hand, the Sports and Tourism permanent secretary Pongpanu Svetarundra welcomed Pokemon Go and said that they would place Pokemon and Pokestops at key historic sites to promote tourism. The election commission also warned that catching Pokemon in polling stations is illegal.

ICT Minister Uttama Savanayana has not made a formal comment for or against Pokemon, but he has spent the day re-tweeting news about Pokemon no-go signs across the globe which suggests he is also anti-Pokemon.

What is clear is that none of the people in power in Thailand have any clue about how the actual game mechanics work. Nor has anyone clarified what rights, if any, True’s Pokemon license gives it over Niantic Labs’ Pokemon Go.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn compounded his act of total cluelessness by saying that the game needed to be adapted to Thailand as Thai pavements are narrower than in Japan.

Takorn clearly believes that Nintendo of Japan created Pokemon Go and placed the Pokestops. California-based Niantic, until recently a Google subsidiary, developed the game and the Pokestops are simply re-used sites from its other augmented-reality game, Ingress the vast majority of which are user-submitted.

True is the master license holder of the Pokemon franchise in Thailand granted by the Pokemon Company back in December 2014. This includes merchandise and TV rights for TrueVisions, but not the right for a game which was made clear when they first held a press conference about the partnership.

However the telco has recently said the license includes the rights to Pokemon Go, according to True’s head of content Peerathon Kasemsri. True CEO Supachai Chearavanont said there would be special in-game items for TrueMove subscribers and perhaps even a unique Thai Pokemon. None of that has happened.

When Pokemon go was launched in Thailand through the Apple and Google stores, all telcos had equal access to the game.

For its part, TrueMove is running a big Pokemon Go promotion campaign under a slogan, “True home of Pokemon” but other than offering an e-book and a Pokemon-branded data package for trainers (which is a simple 5 GB data package that is in any way special or tied to Pokemon Go), nothing exclusive has been launched yet to tap into its Pokemon franchise master license.

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