Pokemon Go vows to remove monsters from Dutch dunes

Pokemon Go players gather at the beach in Kijkduin on August 10, 2016
Pokemon Go players gather at the beach in Kijkduin on August 10, 2016

The US makers of Pokemon Go have promised to remove their virtual monsters from an area of protected Dutch beaches, seeking to stave off a lawsuit by angry local authorities, Dutch officials said Friday.

Since the game was launched in The Netherlands, thousands of fans have been crowding the vast, windswept beaches of Kijkduin, just south of The Hague, where hundreds of the game's most popular cartoon monsters have been spawning daily.

But confronted with a scheduled court hearing on Tuesday in The Hague, the game's makers Niantic have vowed all its Pokemon monsters will have disappeared from the Westduinpark nature reserve by the time of the court date, The Hague said Friday.

"In view of the action brought by the municipality of The Hague, Niantic has apologised and promised to withdraw all its Pokemons by 9 am (0700 GMT) on Tuesday, 11 October," the municipality said in a statement.

Niantic was also seeking to find a technical way to "turn off" its monsters at night, the city said, recalling it wants to ban them between 11 pm and 7 am.

But the local authority warned it was not yet dropping its court action until it "sees concrete results".

Pokemon Go is a smartphone app that uses satellite locations, graphics and the phone's camera capabilities to overlay the cartoon monsters onto real-world settings.

The Hague municipality said last week it had been forced to take the issue to court after Niantic had failed to respond to its pleas to stop the monsters.

"Only once we have seen in black and white that Niantic has kept its promises about these small virtual animals, and that they are really outside Westduinpark, will we stop the court action," said deputy mayor Boudewijn Revis.

"But it is good that Niantic is finally living up to its responsibilities," he added in a statement.

The Pokemon Company, which licenses the franchise, told AFP in August that Niantic was centralising all the requests to withdraw the game from areas.

The most recent update saw the Hiroshima and Berlin Holocaust memorials disappear as Pokemon landmarks. In Poland, the former concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which is today a museum, has also asked to be withdrawn from the game.

© 2016 AFP

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