Just two days after introducing a new game, the creator of Pokémon GO drops four projects


Because of the financial crisis, 8 percent of Niantic’s employees are laid off.

image credits: eurogamer

Niantic just revealed yet another augmented reality game, this one with an NBA theme. But despite applying a variety of brands to similar games over the past few years, such as Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (which has already been shut down as a failure), Catan: World Explorers (which was also cancelled), and Pikmin Bloom, it appears Niantic has been struggling to replicate the success of Pokémon GO. The firm is a one-trick pony, and despite the effort it has made to develop its augmented reality technology as a platform (dubbed Lightship), it appears the popularity of Pokémon GO isn’t enough to sustain the studio as its branded clones fail to achieve equal success. According to a recent report by Bloomberg, the firm is experiencing financial difficulty, and as a result, the studio has cancelled four future titles and laid off 8% of its workforce.

Funny enough, I made reference of Niantic’s new game Transformers: Heavy Metal being absent from action a year after its initial introduction in our NBA All-World announcement. Bloomberg has disclosed that this Transformers game is one of the studio’s four most recent cancellations. Along with Hamlet (created in collaboration with Punchdrunk), Blue Sky (unannounced), and Snowball (unannounced), Transformers: Heavy Metal was also scrapped. These four games join the company’s other two infamous flops, Catan: World Explorers and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.


Of course, there’s a case to be made that Pokémon GO’s popularity is solely due to the presence of Pokémon, which is why Niantic’s other games continue to have trouble attracting players. The casino-like gaining of new Pokémon is what keeps players playing Pokémon GO, not Niantic’s augmented reality gameplay, which explains the persistent lack of interest in competing games. Pokémon collecting is a well-known past activity for both youngsters and adults. On the other hand, collecting virtual tennis shoes in an NBA game doesn’t have the same kind of appeal.

Since Niantic spent a lot of time and effort developing its AR platform Lightship, it appears that Niantic has put itself in a bind. However, just a few of its AR games are becoming popular. All of the company’s eggs are in one basket, and as a result, Niantic’s employees are now suffering as a result of the most recent wave of layoffs, which eliminated 85 to 90 positions from the company’s ranks, or around 8% of its staff.

Even though it would be abhorrent to applaud someone losing their job, Niantic’s present economic downturn is not shocking. Before people become tired of the same game, you can only make it so many times. As NBA All-World was just revealed, it would appear that Niantic is still moving forward with AR games despite today’s bad news. Maybe someday the business will develop something that isn’t an AR game, but that day isn’t today.


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