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Niantic (company)

Niantic (company)

Niantic is an augmented reality mobile gaming software developer.

Overview

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.

History

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.

Private company

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.

Acquisitions and investments

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.

Niantic Real World Platform

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.

Applications

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.

Field Trip

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.

Ingress

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

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.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

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.

Untitled Pikmin

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.

Timeline

January 2019
Niantic raises a $245,000,000 series C round from Battery Ventures, Causeway Media Partners, IVP, Samsung Ventures and aXiomatic Gaming.
November 2017
Niantic raises a $200,599,484 series B round from Founders Fund, Javelin Venture Partners, Meritech Capital Partners, NetEase, Spark Capital and You & Mr Jones.
February 2016
Niantic raises a $5,000,000 series A round from Alsop Louie Partners, Cyan Banister, Lucas Nealan, Scott Banister and You & Mr Jones.
October 2015
Niantic raises a $35,000,000 series A round from Google, Nintendo and Pokémon.

Funding rounds

Funding round
Funding type
Funding round amount (USD)
Funding round date
Investment
Niantic funding round, January 2019
245,000,000
January 2019
4 Results
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Products

Product
Description
Website
Industry
Launch date

Augmented reality mobile game based on the pokémon franchise

2016

Augmented reality massively multiplayer online pervasive game

December 14, 2013
2 Results
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People

Name
Role
LinkedIn

John Hanke

Co-Founder

Phil Keslin

Co-Founder

Further reading

Title
Author
Link
Type
Date

Documentaries, videos and podcasts

Title
Date
Link

Companies

Company
CEO
Location
Products/Services

News

Title
Author
Date
Publisher
Description
Jon Porter
March 30, 2021
The Verge
Pokémon Go developer Niantic has unveiled Codename: Urban Legends. It's a multiplayer demo that it hopes shows off the kinds of experiences only 5G can offer. There's no news about which devices it supports or when it'll release.
Brian Heater
March 29, 2021
TechCrunch
Oh hello. What's this then? A Niantic-branded AR headset? Perhaps? John Hanke, CEO of the Pokemon Go developer teased what could be a first-party head-mounted wearable, as the company makes a more aggressive push into augmented reality. "Exciting to see the progress we're making to enable new kinds of devices that leverage our platform," the [...]
March 23, 2021
The Indian Express
The partnership could breathe life into Nintendo's stalled mobile ambitions after the firm struggled to replicate the appeal of Pokemon Go
Lucas Matney
March 23, 2021
TechCrunch
Nearly five years after the launch of Pokémon Go, Niantic announced Monday that they are partnering with Nintendo to co-develop a new title based on the company's Pikmin franchise. Niantic says the app is being developed in their Tokyo office and will launch later this year. "The app will include gameplay activities to encourage walking [...]
Tom Warren
March 2, 2021
The Verge
Microsoft and Niantic have created a proof-of-concept version of Pokémon Go for the HoloLens headset. It's part of Microsoft's new Mesh platform, but it's not ready for consumers to play just yet.
Mitchell Clark
February 24, 2021
The Verge
Niantic usually doesn't discuss anti-cheat methods, but it's releasing numbers about how many people it's punished or banned for cheating. Over 5 million people have gotten some form of punishment, with a million of those receiving permanent bans.
Lucas Matney
January 5, 2021
TechCrunch
Pokèmon Go creator Niantic has acquired a small SF gaming startup building a league and tournament organization platform to help gamers create their own communities around popular titles. Mayhem was in Y Combinator's winter 2018 batch and went onto raise $5.7 million in funding according to Crunchbase. Other backers include Accel, which led the startup's [...]
Greg Kumparak
December 28, 2020
TechCrunch
Pokémon GO was created to encourage players to explore the world while coordinating impromptu large group gatherings -- activities we've all been encouraged to avoid since the pandemic began.
Lucas Matney
November 11, 2020
TechCrunch
Niantic is continuing to bet heavily on the idea that it knows where consumer computing is headed, namely augmented reality. The game development startup behind Pokémon Go has some good company with companies like Apple, Facebook and Snap making similar bets, but stakes are high for the studio which hopes it can build an early [...]
Lucas Matney
May 26, 2020
TechCrunch
Niantic, the game developer behind Pokémon GO, has raised $470 million -- most recently at a $4 billion valuation -- largely on the promise that it can translate the mainstream success of a breakout mobile game into a full-fledged augmented reality platform that can rival efforts by Facebook and Apple. Today, Niantic shared that it [...]
Greg Kumparak
April 15, 2020
TechCrunch
Pokémon GO was built to be played outside, with friends, as you wandered around and explored interesting landmarks around you -- or, you know, the exact opposite of what we're supposed to be doing right now. Niantic has been working on transitioning the game into something that can still be played from your couch (Pokémon [...]
Lucas Matney
March 31, 2020
TechCrunch
Even as the pandemic forces Niantic to shift the way its outdoor-friendly titles are played, the gaming company is charging ahead with its efforts to build out an augmented reality platform which allows users to interact with the real world. Today, the studio behind Pokémon Go announced that it has acquired 6D.ai, a promising SF-based [...]
Sarah Perez
March 30, 2020
TechCrunch
Niantic, the development company behind popular AR mobile games Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, is adapting its titles to support at-home gaming in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Typically, Niantic's games have encouraged people to go outdoors, explore their world, and connect with others in real life as they played. But with government lockdowns and [...]
Jonathan Shieber
March 27, 2020
TechCrunch
Consumers now have their first chance to sample the wares of a short-form streaming service -- and it's not Quibi. Ficto, a streaming service without a paywall offering interactive dramas, film adaptations, comedies, documentaries, talk shows, game shows, and news, is now live on iOS and Android. The company's entertainment is designed to be interactive with live-streaming, geo-location, [...]
Greg Kumparak
December 5, 2019
TechCrunch
We've known for a while that Pokémon GO creator Niantic feels a bit limited in what it can do with augmented reality today. Between the latency limitations of 4G cellular networks and the need for players to wave a smartphone around to do anything in AR, the tech just isn't where Niantic wants it to [...]
Greg Kumparak
November 19, 2019
TechCrunch
First came Pokémon GO. Then came Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Then came... Catan? It's starting to look like the next property to get Niantic's "real world game" treatment will be Catan -- the namesake island from the popular Settlers Of Catan board game series. Late last month, the company behind Catan said during a board [...]
Greg Kumparak
November 6, 2019
TechCrunch
Sponsored locations aren't new to Niantic games. Companies like Sprint, McDonalds, and AT&T have had sponsored locations in games like Pokémon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite for a long while now. The idea: by turning your business into a big in-game beacon and giving players some reason to stop by, you increase foot [...]
Greg Kumparak
November 6, 2019
TechCrunch
Pokémon GO and games like it can't exist without waypoints -- the in-game locations that correlate to real world points of interest, acting as the Poké Stops, gyms, etc. The more waypoints they have around the world, the better the game becomes. But building up these databases of waypoints is tough. A company can't [...]
Greg Kumparak
June 20, 2019
TechCrunch
Just shy of three years ago, Pokémon GO took over the world. Players filled the sidewalks, and crowds of trainers flooded parks and landmarks. Anywhere you looked, people were throwing Pokéballs and chasing Snorlax. As the game grew, so did the company behind it. Niantic had started its life as an experimental "lab" within Google [...]
Greg Kumparak
May 1, 2019
TechCrunch
We've captured much of Niantic's ongoing story in the first three parts of our EC-1, from its beginnings as an "entrepreneurial lab" within Google, to its spin-out as an independent company and the launch of Pokémon GO, to its ongoing focus on becoming a platform for others to build augmented reality products upon. The Niantic [...]
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References

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