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Niantic cancels projects, closes LA office to prioritize Pokémon Go

Niantic will now put most of its attention on its AR Pokémon game to bring in revenue.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

June 29, 2023

1 Min Read
Promo image of Niantic's Pokémon Go.

The Los Angeles office of Pokemon Go developer Niantic is being shut down, and its 230-person staff is being laid off. A new report from Kotaku reveals the studio is "moving away" from in-house development going forward. 

Along with this, Niantic is shutting down its augmented reality game NBA All-World (which released in January) and has fully canceled development of Marvel World of Heroes

In an internal emailed obtained by the outlet, studio founder John Hanke says Niantic's expenses grew faster than its revenue. He also claims the augmented reality (AR) game market has grown since it released Pokémon Go back in 2016, and its various projects have lost long-term engagement.

Though games like Pokemon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite were said to have surged during the early days of the Covid pandemic, Hanke further explained that surge has gradually declined in recent years. 

"Today’s highly competitive mobile gaming market requires dazzling quality and innovation," wrote Hanke in the companywide email. "Our AR map and platform must deliver the features that developers want in a robust and reliable way. We have not met our goals in all of these areas.”

Pokémon Go is said to now be priority #1 for Niantic, which it hopes to make "healthy and growing as a forever game."

Non-Pokémon projects such as its AR games for Nintendo's Pikmin and Capcom's Monster Hunter series are, at least at time of writing, still in development. 

Today (June 29) also marks the one-year anniversary of the last time Niantic laid off staff and canceling a handful of projects. In 2022's case, the studio canned four in-development projects (like Transformers Heavy Metal) and laid off 8 percent (or 85-90 people) of its workforce. 

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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