The Pokémon Go game is taking the world by storm, despite the fact that it’s not yet officially released in most countries.
The game came out in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States last week, and over the past few days Germany and the UK joined in.
However, that doesn’t mean people elsewhere can’t play it yet.
As the craze spread, so did the various pirated copies, which have been downloaded millions of times already. The Internet is littered with unauthorized Pokémon Go files and guides explaining how to install the game on various platforms.
To give an indication of how massive Pokémon Go piracy is, research from Similarweb revealed that as of yesterday 6.8% of all Android devices in Canada and the Netherlands had the game installed.
In fact, it’s safe to say that unauthorized copies are more popular than the official ones, for the time being.
The APK files for Android are shared widely on torrent sites. At The Pirate Bay, for example, it’s the most shared Android game by far. Even more impressive, it also sent millions of extra daily visitors to APKmirror.com, which hosts copies of the game as well.
Nintendo is obviously not happy with this black market distribution. Although it doesn’t seem to hurt its stock value, the company is targeting the piracy issue behind the scenes.
TorrentFreak spotted several takedown requests on behalf of Nintendo that were sent to Google Blogspot and Google Search this week. The notices list various links to pirated copies of the game, asking Google to remove them.
Thus far the efforts have done little to stop the distribution. The files are still widely shared on torrent sites and various direct download services. The copies on APKmirror.com remain online as well.
In fact, it’s virtually impossible to stop a game that’s gone viral from being shared online. Even if it issues thousands of takedown requests, Nintendo won’t be able to catch ’em all.
Nintendo probably has good reasons to roll Pokémon Go out gradually, but the best anti-piracy strategy is obviously to make the game available worldwide as quickly as possible.