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Pokémon Go fans in China celebrate as game briefly available - before the country is blocked again

Apparent glitch also saw Russia gameplay return.

Image credit: Niantic

Chinese and Russian Pokémon Go players have reported a brief window of regular gameplay this week - despite long-standing geo-blocking that typically makes the game inaccessible across most of these regions.

Reports collated on top Pokémon Go reddit TheSilphRoad show players able to send in-game postcards from Beijing's Tiananmen Square, site of the 1989 student protest and massacre now subject to strict censorship by the country's government.

For years, Pokémon Go has been unplayable in large swathes of China - and various tourists have recorded their experiences trying to load the smartphone game when visiting. No Pokémon will appear to catch, and no locations will appear on the map.

This changed, briefly, on Sunday evening, as an apparent glitch brought the game back to life across the country.

In Russia, where developer Niantic suspended Pokémon Go gameplay in March 2022, the same glitch saw gameplay return there too.

Intriguingly, in-game locations remain in Niantic's database for both of these countries - although it seems unlikely either will return normally any time soon.

"We stand with the global community in hoping for peace and a rapid resolution to the violence and suffering in Ukraine," developer Niantic wrote in a statement published via X in 2022.

"Niantic's games are no longer available for download in Russia and Belarus, and gameplay will also be suspended there shortly."

Niantic declined to comment on Sunday's brief window of gameplay when contacted by Eurogamer.

Pokémon Go's biggest event of the year, Go Fest 2024, is scheduled for this weekend - with the general release of Mythical Pokémon Marshadow one of its rewards. Beyond that, the game looks set to finally go big on Pokémon's eighth generation of monsters, including the likely arrival of Dynamax.

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