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Pokemon GO launches in Japan, bringing smash hit game home

McDonald's restaurants in Japan will soon be a battle ground for players.

FILE: A number of other Asian nations still await the game, including China.

TOKYO - As retailers and brands vie for a piece of a hit that takes players from place to place, fast food chain McDonald's Holdings Co Japan Ltd said its nearly 3,000 shops across Japan would serve as spots where Pokemon can be battled or "trained" in the game within limits.

"Ultimately, McDonald's is a restaurant," said a company spokesperson. "We will call on players not to become a bother to customers who are eating."

The game has enthralled players and boosted investors' view of Nintendo's future, as they bet the group can cash in on a treasure chest of other lucrative cartoon characters, from Donkey Kong to Super Mario.

But the game has also prompted warnings, as players glued to their phones become prone to tripping over, crashing cars, getting mugged or wandering into dangerous places.

The Japanese government on Thursday became the latest to issue a safety warning. The country's National Center for Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity (NISC) told users of the mobile game not to use their real names and warned them about the risks of heat stroke in the muggy Japanese summer.

A number of other Asian nations still await the game, including China, the world's biggest smartphone and online gaming market. Niantic Chief Executive John Hanke has said it would be technically possible to launch there, but noted a host of complex rules and restrictions.

Nintendo shares, which have seen a meteoric rise in recent days, climbed in Tokyo trading on Friday but pared gains to close up under one percent. McDonald's Japan ended up 4.2%.

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