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Pokemon...Stop? Server crash hobbles viral hit

Server problems reported just as game is rolled out across Europe

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 July, 2016, 10:13pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 July, 2016, 2:28pm

Good news! You've created a crazily viral megahit mobile app!

Bad news! You need to support a crazily viral megahit mobile app.

That's the story of Niantic, the company behind Pokemon Go. The game has been an instant hit, which means that from the start, the company has struggled to keep up the demands of its user base, which keeps multiplying.

Niantic has tried to give itself breathing room by doing a phased rollout across the globe, so it can build up up an infrastructure. On the other hand, if you have a crazily viral megahit mobile app, you want to get it to people as fast as you can.

Niantic opened up the game in 26 countries throughout Europe.

Cue immediate reports of outages and server problems, confirmed by the company itself.

Perhaps there wasn't an update because Niantic was busy trying to fix Pokemon Go server issues.

On Atlantic Seaboard, the game, which was totally unusable this morning, now seems to work, though it still requires the occasional reboot. Then again, that's always been the case.

Again, this is a high-quality problem for Niantic to have. It's the kind of problem you have when your game is so popular it lures mobs of people to Central Park at night.

The flip side is that a craze like this is a craze, which means that by definition, it won't last.

So best to make sure that you can serve as many people as possible while the craze is still crazy — because you hope to retain a sliver of them as long-term, lucrative customers.

Bear in mind that Pokemon Go has yet to launch in Japan, and the rest of Asia, where you would expect it to be even more popular.

Also bear in mind that Niantic was originally part of Google, which knows a thing or two about supporting globally popular services. Perhaps they can offer some advice.

By Peter Kafka, Recode.net .

CNBC's parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Recode's parent Vox, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.