Pokemon GO was released a couple of weeks ago in a handful of regions, and more recently the game was officially launched in Canada as well as 26 new countries in Europe. The game proved to be a huge success around the world, but oddly enough, while millions of players are now working on becoming the greatest Pokemon masters, Pokemon fans in Japan have been left out. This has caused a lot of outcry from fans in Japan, especially considering the fact that Pokemon was of course born in Japan as Pocket Monsters 20 years ago. However, according to a new report from TechCrunch citing unnamed sources, Pokemon GO will finally reach Japanese shores tomorrow (Wednesday, July 20), and in addition, this will mark the first time a "sponsored location" will be added to the game.
Although Niantic – the developer behind Pokemon GO – has yet to comment on the matter, sources of TechCrunch have "confirmed" that Pokemon GO will be released in Japan tomorrow. According to a previous statement made by Niantic CEO, John Hanke, the title's release in Japan was unfortunately delayed (until the end of July) in order for the developers to ensure that the servers will be able to withstand the high traffic and demand. True enough, Pokemon GO has been plagued by server issues in countless regions ever since it was released due to unexpectedly high demand, and while the situation appears to improve, it's logical to assume that the developer wants to avoid repeating the same story following the game's release in Japan.
Now, assuming that the reports are true and Pokemon GO will indeed be launched in Japan tomorrow, there's another reason to keep an eye on how the game's release will unfold. Specifically, the original report says that the title's release in Japan will mark the first time for Nintendo and Niantic to team up with an official partner. Niantic's CEO previously stated that they might allow selective partners and brands to create sponsored locations inside the world of Pokemon GO, similarly to how brands have created sponsored content for Ingress (Niantic's first augmented reality game for mobile). According to the report, the first official partner / sponsor for Pokemon GO in Japan will be McDonald's. Generally speaking, a sponsor can create Pokemon Gyms, and given the game's popularity today, this could increase real-world traffic and revenue for the said sponsor. In the case at hand, sources say that Pokemon GO's release in Japan could lead to more than 3,000 McDonald's restaurants in the country becoming Gyms in the world of Pokemon GO.