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McDonald’s confesses to ‘Pokemon Go’ promotion deal but stays silent on Japan launch date

by

Staff Writer

McDonald’s Japan confirmed Wednesday it will be involved in the blockbuster smartphone game “Pokemon Go” when it eventually rolls out for Japanese players.

It stopped short of saying when the Nintendo game will be released in Japan, where fans have watched with envy its rapturous reception in markets overseas. It only says the launch will happen “soon.”

McDonald’s said its roughly 2,900 stores in Japan will become designated “Gym” and “PokeStop” spots, where players can acquire items and train their monsters before pitting them against other players.

Expectations were raised Wednesday after some media reports said “Pokemon Go” would debut the same day, along with McDonald’s Japan saying it would be a partner on the promotion.

U.S.-based TechCrunch, which had reported the app would be available Wednesday, said that release was delayed because a McDonald’s employee leaked information about the debut that later spread online.

As of Wednesday morning, a McDonald’s spokesperson said nothing had been decided. But in a statement that evening, the burger chain confirmed that it would be teaming up with the game. It also said developers were working hard to prepare for a smooth launch.

The game’s wild popularity has strained the computer servers that support it. Crashes have led to outages in some countries.

GPS-based “Pokemon Go,” developed by Niantic Inc., lets people capture virtual Pokemon monsters using their smartphone cameras as they wander around streets and parks.

U.S.-based app research firm SensorTower Inc. said the game was downloaded more than 30 million times in the first two weeks.