Categories
Game

Niantic is laying off about 90 employees and canceling four projects

Pokémon Go developer is laying off eight percent of its workforce, which is said to be around 85-90 jobs. The augmented reality game company has also canceled four projects. CEO John Hanke reportedly wrote in an email to employees that Niantic was “facing a time of economic turmoil” and had to “further streamline our operations in order to best position the company” to weather any future economic turmoil.

“We recently decided to stop production on some projects and reduce our workforce by about eight percent to focus on our key priorities,” a Niantic spokesperson told , which first reported the news. “We are grateful for the contributions of those leaving Niantic and we are supporting them through this difficult transition.”

One of the games that has been shelved is Transformers: Heavy Metal. Niantic and Hasbro and had been testing it in some markets since last summer. Niantic has also canned an immersive theater project called Hamlet. It was working on that project with theater group Punchdrunk, which is behind an immersive production of Macbeth called Sleep No More. The other two shelved projects are called Blue Sky and Snowball.

Niantic hasn’t yet been able to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle success of 2016’s . The company an AR game based on Harry Potter earlier this year. Bloomberg notes that titles based on Catan (which ) and haven’t been successful either.

News of the layoffs and project cancellations comes one day after Niantic , a basketball game it’s making in collaboration with the NBA and the league’s players’ association. Meanwhile, the company will soon release an app that will . It’s also working on an original game called and collaborating with other companies .

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Game

Niantic is making an augmented reality basketball game with the NBA

Pokémon Go developer Niantic is creating a new augmented reality mobile game with more big-name partners: the NBA and its players’ association. NBA All-World will task you with exploring your neighborhood to find some of the league’s stars such as Chris Paul, Steph Curry and James Harden. You can challenge and compete against virtual players in mini-games like three-point contests before recruiting them to your team.

NBA All-World players will be able to deck out their NBA stars in custom apparel. Polygon notes that you can also improve your squad with items you find out in the wild at places such as sporting goods stores and convenience stores. You’ll have the chance to battle others in one-on-one matches with swipe-based commands too. These encounters will be available at various locations, including real-life basketball courts.

Following Pokémon Go and Pikmin Bloom, Niantic has a few other games in the works. Transformers: Heavy Metal is in beta, but it’s only available in a few countries for now. The same goes for Peridot, a modern AR take on Tamagotchi.

It’s not yet clear exactly when Niantic will release NBA All-World, but the game will soon enter a soft launch period. You can sign up for updates if you’re interested.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Game

Niantic buys gameplay recording app Lowkey to improve its in-game social experience

Niantic has acquired another company to help build out its augmented reality platforms. The company has announced that it’s acquiring the team behind Lowkey, an app you can use to easily capture and share gameplay moments. While you can use any screen capture application — or even your phone’s built-in feature — to record your games, Lowkey was designed with casual gamers or those who don’t want to spend time editing their videos in mind. 

The app can capture videos on your computer, for instance, and sync them with your phone where you can use its simple editing tools to create short clips optimized for mobile viewing. You’re also able to share those clips with friends within the app Snapchat-style or publish it for public viewing like TikTok. Niantic didn’t reveal what the Lowkey team will be doing for its AR games and experiences exactly, but it said the team’s “leadership in this space will accelerate the social experiences [it’s] building in [its] products.” The company added: “We share a common vision for building community around shared experiences, and enabling new ways to connect and play for our explorers.”

The Pokémon Go creator purchased other companies in the past in its quest to build more tools and features for its augmented reality products. In 2017, it purchased social animation startup Evertoon to build a social network for its games. Last year, it bought 3D mapping startup 6D.ai to develop “planet-scale” augmented reality, and just this August, it acquired LiDAR scanning app Scaniverse to create a 3D map of the world.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Game

Niantic Lightship ARDK goes global to lead ‘Real-World Metaverse’

As the Niantic Lightship platform launches globally, Niantic takes their next big step toward augmented reality and real-world metaverse dominance. They’re releasing a set of Niantic Lightship Augmented Reality Developer Kit tools for creators, and announcing Niantic Ventures will invest $20 million USD in “companies building the future of AR.” This platform releases to developers “the vault of technology that powers Pokemon GO.”

Niantic Lightship Augmented Reality Developer Kit (ARDK) can be accessed at Lightship.dev. This development kit is part of a long term vision Niantic has to “build a 3D map of the world.” They’re aiming to scan in and map the entire world, piece by piece, in order to create the biggest game board in the history of humanity. They’ll do this using their Visual Positioning System (VPS) along with other “advanced tools” available in the Lightship ARDK.

We’ve had chats about the future of Niantic in the metaverse before. They have massive potential in this realm, especially when it comes to the most successful mobile game of all time, Pokemon GO. Using Pokemon GO as an example, we’ve explored how Niantic will be a big player in the near-future of the virtual, augmented, and mixed-reality future.

Incorporating other brands from around the world in a shared augmented reality that’s mapped the entire planet should put Niantic in a key position for future metaverse power.

Niantic has created a system with three key areas of AR focus: Real-Time Mapping, Understanding, and Sharing. They’ve included Meshing APIs to build depth maps of any environment with most modern smartphone camera arrays. They have Occlusion APIs to allow real-world objects interact with augmented reality objects.

They’ve included Semantic Segmentation APIs to help smartphones users understand and identify elements in the real world and “inform the way virtual content will react within a real space.”

Sharing with this platform is about more than just posting pictures to social networks. Sharing means allowing multiple users to interact with the same AR elements all at once. Multiplayer experiences will work with session-persistent storage to make the metaverse become nearly as “real” as our physical realm.

But make no mistake, Niantic will not be giving this set of tools away for free. At the start, all the way from now until May 1, 2022, a set of “free” terms apply to developers who sign up for the Lightship ARDK. If you sign up after May 1, 2022, you’ll see a different set of terms.

The terms before May 1, 2022 include the core APIs of the Lightship ARDK for free for developers “no matter how many people use their apps.” The part that might start to cost money is the Multiplayer API. The Multiplayer API is “free for apps with fewer than 50,000 monthly active users.” After that, a fee applies for using the Multiplayer API – and this is just so long as you’ve signed up before May 1, 2022.

UPDATE: Niantic also suggests that Multiplayer APIs are free “for the first six months of use, regardless of app size.” So fees may change, but Niantic is making a big effort here to get developers hooked on the platform as effectively as possible. This launch took place on November 8, 2021.

Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Game

‘Pokémon Go’ maker Niantic is helping others create AR metaverse apps

Niantic Labs is offering everyone the chance to get their hands on the tech behind Pokémon Go and Pikmin Bloom so they can build their own augmented reality and “real-world metaverse” apps. Developers can start using the Niantic Lightship platform today. The company also announced a $20 million investment fund to back developers that “share our vision for the real-world metaverse and contribute to the global ecosystem we are building.”

Developers can use Ninatic’s toolkit to create real-time 3D mesh maps so apps can understand the surfaces and topography of the world surrounding a device. Other APIs will help apps know the difference between different aspects of an environment, such as the ground, sky, water and buildings. The toolkit also enables developers to make apps that allow up to five players to take part in the same AR multiplayer session, keeping all of their content and interactions in sync.

The tools are mostly free. The multiplayer APIs will be available at no cost for the first six months no matter how many users an app has. After that, Niantic will charge a fee if the APIs are used in an app with more than 50,000 monthly active users.

Several notable brands have taken part in a private beta of the development kit, including Universal Pictures, PGA of America and Warner Music Group. Coachella has created an AR experience that its festival attendees will be able to check out next year. They’ll be able to see a large version of Coachella’s butterfly landing on the seven-story Spectra rainbow walkway tower.

Meanwhile, Shueisha is working with developer T&S to bring characters from One Piece and other manga into the real world with AR. That app will be available in 2022.

Niantic’s vision of the metaverse is very much different from the virtual reality-centered future Facebook’s parent company Meta has in mind. In a blog post in August, CEO John Hanke suggested that the “real-world metaverse” is about connecting the physical and digital worlds, rather than existing purely as a virtual experience. With that in mind, his company has been working on AR glasses with Qualcomm over the last couple of years.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Game

Niantic Lightship private beta aims to power next Pokemon GO

Niantic announced a new name and a new aim for their augmented reality platform this week. The Niantic Real World Platform is now called Niantic Lightship. This platform will be offered on a broader level with a Niantic Lightship Augmented Reality Developer Kit, AKA “ARDK”. This new kit will be delivered in a Private Beta at first – if you’re a creator of games, now’s the time to act.

Niantic Lightship and the ARDK was made to enable developer to “build their own immersive, imaginative and unique AR applications.” Thanks to the success of games like Ingress and Pokemon GO, Niantic developed this universe to bring about a future in mobile gaming that goes beyond the screen.

Niantic’s ARDK works with Real-time Mapping, Semantic Segmentation, and robust Multiplayer functionality. With what Niantic describes as “advanced Meshing,” smart devices take smart computing (ARDK’s neural network) and expands on what’s seen through a smartphone camera. Environments can be “mapped” in real time, “resulting in a machine-readable representation of the physical world.”

Instead of using LiDAR scanners to do this, Niantic’s decided to work with RGB color sensors that can be found in the vast majority of cameras in smartphones. Niantic notes that their “approach to meshing” incorporates the work of acquisitions including Matrix Mill and 6D.ai.

Semantic Segmentation in Lightship allows the quick analysis of a space and application of characteristics to individual elements. Lightship knows that the sky is the sky, the ground is the ground, and that people are people. Virtual objects can “look, feel and move” in a space in as realistic a set of ways as possible.

The Niantic Augmented Reality Developer Kit works with tools that allow developers to bring next-level physics, depth, occlusions and semantic segmentation to their ideas and apps. Niantic wants creators to make multiplayer experiences that use what’s been done with the bones of Pokemon GO to launch into the stratosphere.

To participate, developers will need to head over to Niantic dot dev, where they’ll find the new Niantic Lightship ARDK and a sign-up process. Niantic will also suggest that users join their publishing group, and take a peek at the games they’ve already published, like Ingress, Harry Potter Wizards Unite, Catan World Explorers, and Pokemon GO.

Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Game

Nintendo, Pokemon GO maker Niantic Labs team up for Pikmin game

Although less successful with its own IP, Niantic Labs found a more profitable market in making AR games around already known franchises. Pokemon GO still remains its most successful attempt while Harry Potter: Wizards Unite still has a loyal following despite lower numbers. Niantic’s true product, however, is its “Real World” AR platform and it is brushing that up again for another Nintendo franchise, this time revolving around the even more cutesy creatures of Pikmin.

Niantic Labs’ upcoming fourth major AR title is a big deal for both companies involved. For Niantic, it will be the first title coming out of its Tokyo studio that it established in 2018. It will also be the first major AR experience to come out of the company since the somewhat disappointing launch of the Harry Potter spinoff in 2019 unless you count Catan: World Explorers.

For Nintendo, this partnership marks the company’s fourth partnership with a mobile game developer after DeNA, Cygames, and Line. The gaming giant has been criticized both by fans and even by investors for not turning its smartphone apps and games into a profit. Given the success of Pokemon GO, which was also done in collaboration with Nintendo, it probably hopes that this next mobile game will just be as lucrative.

That, however, will largely depend on the global situation by the time this still unnamed Pikmin AR game launches later this year. Niantic is keeping a tight lid, of course, but it shares that gameplay will encourage walking and make walking more fun. That’s not exactly surprising given the core mechanics of Niantic’s existing AR games.

The game, however, comes at a time when there is still some hesitation and uncertainty about such activities in many parts of the world. The pandemic has even forced Niantic Labs to modify its game mechanics to take into account certain restrictions. While parts of the world, especially in major Nintendo markets like the US and Japan, are opening up spaces, it remains to be seen if this walking-centric Pikmin AR game will be seen as a much-needed diversion or a health hazard.

Repost: Original Source and Author Link