Pokemon Go spurs lifestyle changes, business boom as it rolls out in Asia

Fri Aug 19, 2016 6:42am EDT
 
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By Eveline Danubrata and Glenys Kirana

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Asian fans of smartphone game Pokemon Go are hunting out the best telecom providers and network gear to overcome the hurdle posed by patchy network signals in their race to capture virtual cartoon characters.

From Indonesia to Hong Kong and Cambodia, the wild popularity of Nintendo's (7974.T: Quote) augmented reality app is also driving lifestyle changes for many gamers, who must trudge through real-life locations in their quest.

The game launched in many Southeast Asian countries on Aug. 5, a month after the United States, New Zealand and Australia, but enthusiasts are finding they must first vanquish shaky transmission signals.

In Indonesia, Muchamad Syaifudin, a 29-year-old bank employee, said he switched to a mobile carrier offering better data packages, while his friends snapped up modems, at a cost of $20 each, to lock on to the signals.

"We can bring the modems to play, especially at places where a signal is hard to find," Syaifudin told Reuters by telephone.

He and his friends living in Central Java, a province famed for its idyllic paddy fields and mountains, used to spend leisure time playing strategy games at home.

But now, armed with the new devices, they increasingly venture out to catch the Pokemons that appear at temples and other landmarks where people gather.

In Hong Kong, commuters are hopping on the trams known as "ding dings" in their forays, while in countries such as Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, the U.S. State Department has sent tweets warning players to beware of unexploded wartime mines.   Continued...

 
A passenger plays the augmented reality mobile game "Pokemon Go" by Nintendo inside a bus in Hong Kong, China August 12, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu