Niantic, the company behind the popular augmented reality (AR) game Pokémon Go, is undergoing significant organizational changes. In an email shared on the company’s website, Niantic CEO John Hanke announced layoffs, game shutdowns, and the closure of the Los Angeles studio. These changes aim to narrow the company’s focus and prioritize the development and maintenance of Pokémon Go, which has been a massive success since its launch nearly seven years ago.
Despite the release of several new games attempting to replicate Pokémon Go’s success, such as those based on Harry Potter and Catan, Niantic has faced difficulties in recreating the same level of popularity. Last year, the company had to lay off employees and shut down games based on these franchises and four others. Other companies have also struggled in the AR gaming genre, with Microsoft shutting down Minecraft Earth and CD Projekt Red closing its AR game in The Witcher series.
Layoffs and Game Shutdowns
As part of the recent round of organizational changes, approximately 230 employees will be affected by the layoffs. Additionally, Niantic will be “sunsetting” its NBA game, NBA All World, and halting production on its Marvel game, Marvel World of Heroes. These decisions reflect the company’s commitment to streamlining its operations and focusing on its flagship game, Pokémon Go.
Despite the game shutdowns, Niantic remains optimistic about the future of augmented reality. CEO John Hanke emphasized the company’s belief in AR as the future form factor for computing. Niantic is also closely monitoring the development of mixed reality devices such as the Meta Quest Pro and Apple Vision Pro, which are seen as intermediate steps towards true outdoor AR devices.
The Future of Niantic
Moving forward, Niantic’s top priority is to ensure the long-term success and growth of Pokémon Go as a “forever game.” The company will continue to develop and support other games like Pikmin Bloom, Peridot, and Monster Hunter Now. Additionally, Niantic remains committed to investing in its AR platforms for developers, providing opportunities for the creation of innovative AR experiences.
Niantic’s recent organizational changes, including layoffs and game shutdowns, reflect the company’s focus on maintaining and expanding the success of Pokémon Go. While facing challenges in replicating the same level of popularity with other games, Niantic remains dedicated to the future of augmented reality. By prioritizing the development of Pokémon Go and investing in its AR platforms, the company aims to continue leading the way in the AR gaming industry.