Conversations about augmented reality game Pokémon Go have taken over social media platforms in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
According to a report released by global media intelligence firm Meltwater, Pokémon Go has gone viral despite the fact that the game hasn’t launched yet in the region.
Based on an analysis of smartphone usage and social media, Meltwater found that Saudi Arabia was the most active in conversations centred on Pokémon Go with 51% mentions. It was closely followed by UAE at 25%, Kuwait at 10%, Qatar & Bahrain at 5%, and Oman at 4%. The report also showed that the highest amount of conversation (58.7%) took place on Twitter.
Adele Coelho, head of marketing at Meltwater India, commented on the findings saying: “This is an example of the power of analysing social media conversations at scale. In this case, Niantic can dig into which countries have the most positive social buzz around Pokémon GO and decide where to launch next.”
Typically search terms in English for the augmented reality mobile game included Pokemon Go, PokemonGO and TigerMask.
The popularity of Pokémon Go in the region comes despite GCC governments including issuing several warnings against downloading the popular game. Authorities urged smartphone users not to play games such as Pokémon Go that request details about their geographical locations.
They also said that the game invades the privacy of users and allows criminal elements like hackers to spy on them and know when they are in isolated places—giving them the opportunity to rob users of their possessions or cause further harm.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia renewed an old fatwa that prohibits playing Pokémon Go saying that the game is considered to be a form of gambling, which is forbidden in Islam.
Saudi officials also went as far as imposing an SAR300 fine ($80) against motorists who play the game while driving.