Niantic has decided to postpone the launch of Pokémon Go in Japan today, due to an unexpected email leak that revealed details about the company's rumored sponsor partnership with food chain McDonald's. A source close to the company confirmed the delay to TechCrunch, referring to a specific email chain between Pokémon Go's creators and McDonald's as the reason behind the move.
The two companies -- in addition to The Pokémon Company and Nintendo itself, presumably -- believed that the all-but-confirmed launch of Pokémon Go in the country would create a hype that "would overload the game" for a lot of its players, not just within Japan. The creators of Pokémon Go now hope that a restructured, less publicly expected launch will prepare the game's servers for an influx of players in the country that will undoubtedly be quite high.
When Pokémon Go does launch in Japan, it will be the first territory to introduce sponsored retail partnerships, which aim to lure players to restaurants like McDonald's in order to generate revenue for both Niantic and the corporate food chain. According to these sources close to the launch, all 3,000 McDonald's locations in Japan will be turned into gyms where players can battle opposing teams to take over the location, or train their Pokémon with teammates if they've already conquered the gym. It's unclear if any locations will be PokéStops instead of gyms.
The debut of Pokémon Go in Japan is now said to be "imminent," with a report from Nikkei suggesting the new launch date could be as soon as tomorrow, July 21. Over the weekend, the game launched in Canada and 26 countries across Europe, and it's already been available in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Japan will mark its first launch in Asia, with an expected rollout to other countries in the region in the coming weeks.
Thanks to Pokémon Go's success, Nintendo's market value has more than doubled since the game launched earlier in July. The company is now worth $42.5 billion, and it even broke the single-day trading record in Tokyo last Friday when $4.5 billion worth of stock was traded. Nintendo's new valuation now puts it ahead of Sony, which has a market cap sitting around $40 billion.