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‘Pokemon Go’ fans play in India despite no official launch

July 27, 2016 GMT
In this Friday, July 22, 2016 photo, Pokemon Go players meet in Lodhi Garden in New Delhi, India. "Pokemon Go," the highly addictive online game, has landed in India and thousands are out searching for pokemon characters as the mania spreads. Although it has not been launched officially in India, the augmented-reality-based game has caught on, with fans also using virtual private networks (VPNs) to change their locations and catch pokemons in New York and London while sitting in their Indian homes. (AP Photo/Thomas Cytrynowicz)
In this Friday, July 22, 2016 photo, Pokemon Go players meet in Lodhi Garden in New Delhi, India. "Pokemon Go," the highly addictive online game, has landed in India and thousands are out searching for pokemon characters as the mania spreads. Although it has not been launched officially in India, the augmented-reality-based game has caught on, with fans also using virtual private networks (VPNs) to change their locations and catch pokemons in New York and London while sitting in their Indian homes. (AP Photo/Thomas Cytrynowicz)
In this Friday, July 22, 2016 photo, Pokemon Go players meet in Lodhi Garden in New Delhi, India. "Pokemon Go," the highly addictive online game, has landed in India and thousands are out searching for pokemon characters as the mania spreads. Although it has not been launched officially in India, the augmented-reality-based game has caught on, with fans also using virtual private networks (VPNs) to change their locations and catch pokemons in New York and London while sitting in their Indian homes. (AP Photo/Thomas Cytrynowicz)

NEW DELHI (AP) — “Pokemon Go” has yet to officially arrive in India, but that’s not stopping people there from playing the highly addictive online game.

Many fans of the augmented-reality-based game have managed to download the app even though it has not been launched in India yet. Some are also using virtual private networks (VPNs) to change their locations and catch pokemons in New York and London while sitting in their Indian homes.

Organized “pokewalks” are becoming common in cities such as Mumbai and New Delhi, where hundreds are gathering to catch pokemon characters.

“You really feel like you’re walking around in tall grass, catching all your favorite pokemons,” 14-year-old Nikhil Kapil said in Mumbai.

The highly popular gaming app has become a global phenomenon after it was launched in most countries across North America and Europe. It was recently launched in Japan and Hong Kong, the only two Asian countries where it is officially available to download.

Gamers in India have used accounts linked to U.S.- or Britain-based app stores to download the game. No launch date has been announced for India.

Siddhant Tyagi, a 21-year-old design student who has caught all four starter pokemons — Bulbasaur, Squirtle, Charmander and Pikachu — said he and his friends have been spending an average of four hours a day playing “Pokemon Go,” often walking around New Delhi landmarks and city parks, where most “pokestops” are located.

He also uses a VPN to catch pokemons around the world, while sitting in his New Delhi home.

“I don’t have to wait the whole morning, as the people of New York would have to, to go to Central Park,” Tyagi said. “I can easily sit here and battle till whatever time I want.”

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Mehta reported from Mumbai.