Why Pokemon Go So Popular in Cambodia

Why the new game Pokemon Go is suddenly everywhere in Cambodia? Pokemon Go is a phenomenon in Cambodia, particularly in Phnom Penh. Just several days after its official launch in countries in Southeast Asia, the mobile virtual reality game is quickly a new term in town. Trainers and catchers in Phnom Penh embrace the game much faster than anywhere else in around Cambodia. Those in Siem Reap started slower. This is Niantic/Nintendo – a big big commercial power, that is pushing the game sector world wide. It must be that Niantic had already a lot of players that marked possible locations for gyms in Cambodia – maybe the Lonely Planet community.

A Pokemon Go playing the game while drinking beer at his home frontyard.

In our previous post, we pointed out the safety for trainers and catchers walking on Phnom Penh streets with their high end smartphone. In a city like Phnom Penh, bag and phone snatching is quite common.

These are 7 reasons we think this game is so popular among Cambodians:


Wherever Pokemon Go launches, the media outlets in those cities would cover it as big, tech news story of the century. And what Niantic, the company behind the Pokemon magically does from its headquarters is driving the game players to go into places like genocide museum, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum or Pol Pot’s secret prion S-21. This isn’t the first incident. Pokemon Go attractions inside the Auschwitz concentration camp and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum were big news globally, too. So Niantic plays the media hype and attention well. On Monday, after a Pokekmon Go player tweeted about Pokemon Gym placed inside the Phnom Penh genocide museum, 3 major media outlets started to cover it as front-page news. The Southeastern Globe (Cambodia’s genocide museum becomes battleground for Pokémon Go players) published the news on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Cambodia Daily (Survivors Outraged as Pokemon Go Invades Genocide Museum) and the Phnom Penh Post (Pokemon at S-21 not appropriate, some say) featured the controversial news prominently.


It’s super easy to start playing the game: catching Pokemon in the city. All you need is a smartphone (Android or iPhone).


Go with the flow. When Pokemon Go was launched recently in the US and Europe, it took those countries by the storm. The game adoption rate was really really lightning fast in term of app download and active users.


Cambodian people, mostly Facebook users, like hanging out with other people after connecting with others on the super social networking site for too long without even meeting in person. So this is high chance and excellent excuse to meet through catching Pokemon Go.


As a user on Quora wrote, “because it has immersed players into its unique universe…” “If you’ve ever watched or played Pokémon, the most striking thing about the Pokémon universe is how pervasive Pokémon are in everyone’s daily lives. Pokémon are on the news, kids grow up wanting to be Pokémon trainers, and Pokémon even serve societal functions.”


Because for so many years, Cambodian teenagers and youth don’t have some good games to enjoy. Many of them play computer games in their houses or secret coffee shops where police some time come and check in on them. So a virtual Pokemon Go game to get them out of their air conditioned, comfort zone is very attractive.


It’s a very good game which the players can show off their iPhone to anyone on the city streets.

There is a hashtag for Pokemon Go: #PokemonGoKH, where you can keep up with. Latest updates on Twitter in particular.

Also: Internet Service Providers in Cambodia

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