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Pokemon Go is strangely working in one Asian country: Indonesia

The hugely popular game can't be officially downloaded yet, but that hasn't stopped Indonesians.

Pokemon Go is unofficially working in Jakarta, but not the rest of Asia.
Leong Hean Leun/CNET

While much of the world waits in anticipation for the wildly popular Pokemon Go game to launch in their countries, one Asian country is already catching them all, despite it not being officially available in its app stores.

Unlike the rest of Asia, including Pokemon's home country of Japan, the game has been working in Indonesia since it first went live, letting resourceful trainers hunt Pokemon and battle them in gyms. As in some other countries where it's not yet officially available, Android users can download the app from unofficial sources, while iPhone users can get it from the US App Store by changing their settings and creating a new account.

But in order for that to work, the game's servers have to be turned on in your country. If you're in another Asian country and are desperately searching for a Blastoise, all you see when you load up the app is a blank map. (Although the servers did briefly go live in the region.)

Buhori Dermawan, a developer working in the country's capital Jakarta, told CNET that he has been playing for about two weeks now, has gotten up to level 17 and has a healthy collection of 75 Pokemon in his Pokedex.

"I can go out to find Pokemon, it's healthy and fun, and I can upgrade the Pokemon and battle for gyms," he said. Dermawan also said that he had walked for an hour to work instead of taking his usual 15-minute bike ride just so he could catch virtual critters.

Businesses in Jakarta, as in the rest of the Pokemon-playing world, have been quick to latch on to the phenomenon. The Emporium Pluit Mall, a shopping mall in the centre of the city, posted to Facebook a list of Pokemon that lurk in its premises in a bid to attract more walk-in traffic.

Grab, an Uber competitor in Southeast Asia, has launched a Pokemon Go campaign in the city by offering players a discounted ride to and from Jakarta's National Monument, where the company is using lures to attract Pokemon for trainers at the landmark's Pokestop.

"We've created this initiative in the name of good fun, where we invite our fellow Grab employees and users to enjoy the game and play together," Mediko Azwar, Grab Indonesia's marketing director said in a statement. "Rather than risking their safety by playing Pokemon Go while driving or riding vehicles, we would like to encourage people to play safely instead."

Indonesian politicians have also hopped on the bandwagon, with Jakarta's governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama telling those living in the city to "to go out to the capital's parks and even City Hall to search for their next Pikachu or Blastoise," Coconuts Jakarta reports.

For now, there's no word yet on when developer Niantic will make the game officially playable in the region. CEO John Hanke said the company plans to roll out the game to 200 more markets "relatively soon", Reuters reports.

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