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Niantic to shut down Catan: World Explorers after hitting design roadblock

"Trying to adapt such a well-designed board game to a global, location-based MMO game was a tough challenge."

Chris Kerr

September 20, 2021

1 Min Read

Niantic is shutting down Catan: World Explorers around a year after it was soft-launched. The AR title will be permanently sunsetted on November 18, 2021, having made its early access debut in July 2020.

The game is currently available in a select number of countries including New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, and Switzerland, but ongoing design issues mean World Explorers is being pulled from app stores today and will never officially see the light of day.

Players affected by the shutdown will be able to take advantage of increased bonuses and item discounts in the coming weeks, but will be prevented from making additional real-money purchases.

"The team originally set out to build a game that turned the world into a Catan gameboard. We had a vision for trading, harvesting, and building up the world in seasonal play and resetting the board each month, just like you do for each new game you play at home," explained the dev team in a forum post.

"But trying to adapt such a well-designed board game to a global, location-based Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game was a tough challenge. We're so proud of the game we made, however we got a little too complicated and a little too far from the original Catan game."

Niantic has produced a range of location-based AR titles based on popular franchises, including Pokemon Go, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and an untitled Pikmin project that's still in development. Although the studio struggled to work its magic on the Catan franchise, it said it would learn from its mistakes on future projects.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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