Sun, Oct 09, 2016 - Page 16 News List

Niantic to clear Pokemon from Dutch beach

AFP, THE HAGUE, Netherlands

The US makers of Pokemon Go have promised to remove their virtual monsters from an area of protected Dutch beaches, seeking to stave off a lawsuit by angry local authorities, Dutch officials said on Friday.

Since the game was launched in the Netherlands, thousands of players have been crowding the vast, windswept beaches of Kijkduin, just south of The Hague, where hundreds of the game’s most popular cartoon monsters have been spawning daily.

However, confronted with a scheduled court hearing on Tuesday in The Hague, game developer Niantic Inc vowed that all of its Pokemon monsters would have disappeared from the Westduinpark nature reserve by the time of the court date, The Hague said on Friday.

“In view of the action brought by the municipality of The Hague, Niantic has apologized and promised to withdraw all its Pokemons by 9am on Tuesday, Oct. 11,” the municipality said in a statement.

Niantic was also seeking to find a technical way to “turn off” its monsters at night, the city said, adding that it wants to ban them between 11pm and 7am.

However, the local authority warned it was not yet dropping its court action until it “sees concrete results.”

Pokemon Go is a smartphone app that uses satellite locations, graphics and the device’s camera capabilities to overlay augmented-reality cartoon monsters onto real-world settings.

The Hague municipality said last week it had been forced to take the issue to court after Niantic had failed to respond to its pleas to stop the monsters.

“Only once we have seen in black and white that Niantic has kept its promises about these small virtual animals, and that they are really outside Westduinpark, will we stop the court action, but it is good that Niantic is finally living up to its responsibilities,” The Hague Deputy Mayor Boudewijn Revis said.

The Pokemon Co, which licenses the franchise, in August told reporters that Niantic was centralizing all the requests to withdraw the game from areas.

The most recent update saw the Hiroshima and Berlin Holocaust memorials disappear as Pokemon landmarks.

In Poland, the former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which is today a museum, has also asked to be removed from the game.

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