2nd August 2016: A small Sydney suburban park that attracted thousands of Pokemon Go players, causing the grassy spot to turn to mud, has disappeared from the popular mobile game after complaints of chaos.
The backlash in the Sydney suburb of Rhodes is the latest battle between avid players of the augmented-reality game, which has been a huge hit since it was rolled out in July, and authorities unhappy with the crowds it can attract.
“Weekends, particularly at night, there were up to a 1,000-1,500 people in the park,” City of Canada Bay Council’s deputy mayor Helen McCaffrey said.
“The grass is no longer there and residents after three-and-a-half weeks were just over it,” she said of Peg Paterson Park, which has a playground and is surrounded by tall apartment buildings.
“When a rare Pokemon was caught, there would be a cheer and cars would honk as the traffic was becoming horrific. I spoke to somebody a couple of days ago who was coming in from Penrith (45 kilometres/28 miles away) to play.”
The council encouraged residents to complain directly to the game’s developer, US-based software company Niantic, to ask for the park to be deleted from the game after they complained of “complete chaos” and rubbish being dumped.
“All 3 pokestops removed. Not a single soul left in the park. NOT ONE,” wrote a Facebook user late Monday, while another added: “For the people still convinced that Rhodes is still the hot spot…. Let it go, mourn the loss…. It’s dead! GONE!”
The game, which has the tagline “catch ’em all” — allows players to chase virtual cartoon character monsters with their mobile phones, with the Peg Paterson Park particularly popular due to the regular appearance of rare Pokemon.
While Pokemon Go has been praised as a fun way to get people outdoors, it has also attracted safety warnings about not walking into oncoming traffic, straying into restricted areas, or becoming victims of crimes.
The app by Niantic, a spinoff of Google, has now been launched in more than 40 countries including the US, Japan and much of Europe. It has been downloaded more than 75 million times.
Pokemon Go has also raised the potential of such technology for other applications, and the real-world impact they could have.