Niantic, also known as Niantic Labs, is an American software development and gaming company headquartered in San Francisco, California. Though the company develops many types of games, it is best known for its augmented reality (AR) mobile gaming. Some of Niantic's well-known games include Pokemon Go, Ingress, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
Niantic was initially founded as Niantic Labs internally at Google in 2010 by John Hanke and Phil Keslin. The company remained a part of Google until becoming an independent entity in 2015 and formally changed its name to Niantic. The company's namesake 'Niantic' is an homage to a whaling vessel that had gone through San Francisco in the 1800s during the California Gold Rush.
Niantic spun out from Google in 2015 after Google announced its restructuring under Alphabet, Inc. During the spin-out, Google committed to giving Niantic up to $30 million in Series A funding to support the growth of the company as an independent entity. Google stated it would initially invest $20 million and an additional $10 million for successfully reaching milestones.
Niantic has made various acquisitions to expand its user base and improve technologies. Additionally, in November of 2018, Niantic, alongside Mitsubishi Chemical's Diamond Edge Ventures, invested in DigiLens. DigiLens is a company developing holographic waveguide displays for AR applications.
In November of 2018, Niantic announced its Real World Platform. The Real World Platform was built as a "planet-scale augmented reality platform" for current and future augmented reality hardware generations. This platform is viewed as a global operating system for applications that unite the digital world with the physical world.
Niantic has released various applications and games since its founding. Some of its most well-known games include Pokemon Go, Ingress, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
The first application Niantic released after its founding was an app called Field Trip. The program was released in 2012 as a location-based mobile application used to "reveal hidden, cool, and unique things around you in the world." The application was available on mobile app stores until 2019, when Niantic announced they would be shutting it down.
The first game Niantic launched with augmented reality features was Ingress, which initially was only available on Android phones by invitation only at its launch in November of 2012. The game remained invite-only for almost a year before becoming publicly available in October of 2013. It wasn't until July of 2014 that it was made available to iOS users.
In 2018, Niantic released a remastered and reimagined version of the game called Ingress Prime. The game was completely rewritten and applied lessons learned from Pokemon Go to improve the product during development. The older version of the Ingress game remains available to those interested in playing from the beginning, but it is now called Scanner [REDACTED].
Pokemon Go was announced in September of 2015 in partnership with Nintendo and The Pokemon Company and that it would be released for Andriod and iOS devices. The initial game launch took place in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States in July of 2016, with roll-outs worldwide for the remainder of 2016.
Pokemon Go garnered significant attention and quickly became the "most downloaded application in the first week" in iOS history, but was topped later that year by Super Mario Run. Within the first month of launch, Pokemon Go had been downloaded over 100 million times and had a daily recurring revenue of over $10 million. On the two-month anniversary of its launch, Niantic announced the game had been downloaded more than 500 million times and that players worldwide had walked a cumulative 4.6 billion kilometers. In 2019, it was announced that Pokemon Go had been downloaded over 1 billion times.
In November of 2017, Niantic announced that it had been developing Harry Potter: Wizards Unite in a partnership with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and WB Games San Francisco, under the Portkey Games name. The AR game was developed to allow players to explore neighborhoods and cities to discover lore, artifacts, learn to cast spells, and encounter legendary beasts. The game is themed after J.K Rowling's Harry Potter series of books and movies.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was beta-tested in New Zealand starting on April 16, 2019.Australia beta-testing began less than a month later, on May 1, 2019, before being made globally available on June 21, 2019, with releases in the US and UK happening the following day—June 22.
In March of 2021, Nintendo and Niantic announced a new mobile application for the brand franchise Pikmin that was to be released later in 2021. The project is planned to be an AR-based adventure in the real world, including small creatures called Pikmin. The Pikmin game will be the first application developed by Niantic's Tokyo division.