Sorry, Pikachu, but the Middle Eastern nation doesn’t choose you.
In trying to pinpoint the reasons for the massive success of Pokémon GO, some of the credit has to go the near-perfect way it blends casual and hard-core video game elements. The basic gameplay consists of just walking, tapping the screen, and then swiping your finger to capture Pocket Monsters, making the game easy for new gamers to pick up and play. On the other hand, Pokémon GO encourages extended play like almost no game before, since Pokémon could be hiding anywhere in the world.
Well, except Iran.
The Middle Eastern nation has announced that it is banning the use of Pokémon GO within its borders. Given the country’s cultural background, many might assume that the decision stems from Pokémon clashing with the values of stern-minded religious figures. After all, the franchise has previously run afoul of an Islamic leader in Saudi Arabia who objected to its illustrated imagery or what they deemed to be a gambling aspect to the Pokémon card game in cases where winning players could take one of their defeated opponent’s cards.
However, Pikachu and his Pokémon GO pals are being kept out of Iran for secular reasons. The country’s High Council of Virtual Spaces, which has local jurisdiction over the Internet, is barring the game due to “security concerns.” The exact nature of the problems has not been made public, but after a month of reportedly communicating with developer Niantic about the situation, the parties were apparently unable to arrive at a satisfactory resolution. So, sad as we are to hear it, fans planning to hunt for Sandshrews in the Dasht-e Kavir Dessert will have to search elsewhere.