Niantic wants to roll out Pokemon GO in 200 markets soon: CEO

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The head of the developer behind Nintendo Co Ltd’s (7974.T) Pokemon GO said he wanted to launch the smash-hit mobile game in roughly 200 countries and regions “relatively soon” and was working on bolstering server capacity to enable the wider rollout.

“Why limit it?” John Hanke, chief executive of Niantic, which developed Pokemon GO jointly with Nintendo affiliate Pokemon Company, told Reuters in an interview on Friday.

The game, which marries a classic 20-year old franchise with augmented reality, has been launched just in five countries including the United States, Britain and Germany.

Shares in Nintendo have surged 77 percent to a six-year high in just over a week on the game’s success, adding $15 billion in market value.

Hanke declined to go into a detailed timeframe for further rollouts but noted that the company’s first location-based augmented reality game Ingress had taken a month or two to reach that number of markets.

He confirmed that the game would soon be coming to Japan and that he expects “ultimately to launch” the game in South Korea, where Google’s mapping functions are restricted due to security issues with North Korea.

Hanke said the company is working on the mapping issue. “There are solutions to that,” he said.

Regarding China, he said it is technically possible to launch the game there, but noted that there are regulations that have to be considered. He declined to comment further on a potential China rollout.

(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)