All posts in “niantic”

AR/VR startups raised $3 billion last year led by a few industry juggernauts


Tech companies working with augmented reality and virtual reality technologies raised more than $3 billion in venture funding in 2017. This data comes from analytics firm Digi-Capital and suggests that while the buzz surrounding the AR/VR space has tapered off, the sheer amount of cash getting pumped into the industry is continuing to surge.

Though the report’s numbers highlight 2017’s marked dollar increase over 2016 investments, deal flow seems to be lighter, with more than half of this cash coming from just four massive deals:

While juggernauts like Niantic, Improbable and Unity were able to raise hundreds of millions from investors this year with pitches that undoubtedly touched on the future importance of AR/VR technologies, the strong, more traditional, gaming industry backbone that the companies have was likely key to them scoring that capital now.

Magic Leap is the industry’s biggest outlier, and now that we actually have an idea what their first product is going to look like, it’s probably going to start looking more like a real company. We still don’t know when exactly their product is coming or how much it will cost, but we more critically have no idea how much of the company’s efforts will skew toward enterprise versus traditional consumers.

For smaller companies that raised seed rounds for their VR ambitions in 2016 and 2017, the trend toward fewer deals (as evidenced by Crunchbase findings here) suggest that the frothiness is subsiding and there may be fewer follow-on rounds and more AR/VR startups joining the dead pool.

In the latter half of 2017, the focus moved from headset-based VR to mobile-based AR with Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore at the center of attention. The reception has been limited, given that the app’s built on the platforms have been skewed toward visualization only and pretty much suck as a result. The consumer AR headset space is largely bone-dry as companies wait to see where Apple points the industry and Microsoft and Magic Leap build for the consumers of 10 years from now.

There are still signs of promise, but the AR/VR hype correction of 2017 took the wind out of a lot of sails in the AR/VR space, while Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are the ones with pockets deep enough to see what’s left. It’s nice to see so much money found its way to startups, but when it comes to an emerging technology, seeing this downward trend in deal flow is concerning.

Here’s everything new Niantic just added to Pokémon Go

Weather spawns

The weather will influence what spawns around you. If a Pokémon spawns because of weather patterns, it’ll have a more intense ring on the map and an icon next to its name during capture (see red arrows).

– Clear and sunny: More grass, ground, and fire Pokémon will spawn

Cloudy: More fairy, fighting, and poison Pokémon will spawn

– Foggy: More dark and ghost Pokémon will spawn

– Rainy: More water, electric, and bug Pokémon will spawn

– Snowy: More ice and steel Pokémon will spawn

– Windy: More dragon, flying, and psychic Pokémon will spawn

Niantic tells me the weather influences spawns, but it’s not set in stone. You might see snow Pokémon pop up when it’s sunny… they’ll just be considerably less common. Meanwhile, weather will impact spawns of all Pokémon, not just the new Gen 3 stuff.

Pokémon Go creator raises $200 million ahead of Harry Potter game launch


Pokémon Go creator Niantic has raised a new $200 million in funding, reports The Wall Street Journal. The Series B raise was led by Spark Capital, and includes participation from Founders Fund, Meritech, Javelin Venture Capital, You & Mr. Jones and NetEase, Inc. Spark partner Megan Quinn is also joining Niantic’s board as part of the new financing deal.

Niantic is known for its augmented reality games, which began with the multiplayer sci-fi spy game Ingress, created during the company’s time as an internal startup founded within Google. In 2015, Niantic spun out as its own entity, and it launched Pokémon Go in July, 2016. The Pokémon AR game managed to attract massive interest at launch, resulting in huge real-world gatherings of players thanks to its mechanic of incentivizing players to move around in the real world to achieve in-game success.

In its Series A round, Niantic raised $30 million in funding from an investor group including Alsop Loui Partners, Google, Nintendo, The Pokémon Company, Cyan and Scott Banister and others. Earlier this year, Niantic announced its first acquisition, of mobile social network developer Evertoon, and it also recently made official its intent to build a mobile AR game based on Harry Potter.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is due out sometime next year, and will be developed in partnership with Warner Bros. Interactive.

Niantic’s follow-up to Pokémon Go will be a Harry Potter AR game launching in 2018


Niantic Labs had tremendous success with Pokémon Go, which paired their expertise in building location-based augmented reality mobile experiences with a top-flight IP with a ravenous fan base. So, it stands to reason that we should expect a similar fan response to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, an AR title set to launch in 2018, co-developed by Warner Bros. Interactive and its new sub brand Portkey Games.

Niantic building a Harry Potter game similar to Pokémon Go was rumoured last year, when the company noted that it had acquired the rights to the app. But the rumour was subsequently debunked, oddly enough, with the original article containing the information pulled from the web.

The app is now official, bu the details are still scarce, with the launch timeframe of just sometime next year, but it sounds like there will be significant influence from the Niantic game Ingress, which allows players to roam the real world collecting power-ups, defending locations and exploring their environment.

The mechanics of Ingress would actually translate pretty well to the fictional Harry Potter universe, and seems almost ready-made for a fantasy spell casting coat of paint to replace its science-fiction special forces veneer. Also, like Pokémon Go, it could benefit from the location database built up by Ingress originally (and expanded by the Pokémon title) to incorporate real-world locations into the in-game experience.

Featured Image: Warner Bros.

Legendary Pokémon are headed to Pokémon Go

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Pokémon Go’s getting Legendary Pokémon, those ultra rare, ultra powerful pocket monsters that typically figure prominently in the narrative arc for the main series console games. The Legendary Pokémon will appear as Eggs at gyms, and they’ll act as bosses for the new Raids that the game recently introduced – once defeated, you’ll get a chance to catch them, much like you can in main franchise titles.

Legendary Pokémon are indeed extra tough and powerful vs. the ordinary variety, and there are some caveats to using them that go along with that – you can use them in Raids, Boss fights and Gym battles, but they can’t be assigned to defend a gym, as can ordinary Pokémon, likely because that would be a game-breaking balance issue.

As for when you can start to find, fight and capture Legendary Pokémon in Go, mark your calendars for July 22: That’s when Pokémon Go Fest is taking place in Grant Park in Chicago, and if players there and world-wide capture enough Pokémon during the ‘challenge window’ taking place during that event, the first Legendary Pokémon will make its appearance in Grant Park. Then, if the Chicago trainers take that down in a collective raid, it’ll unlock the Legendary Pokémon for Raids worldwide.

Niantic and Pokémon are smart to make this an unlock that the community has to come together to earn – it’s a great mechanic for this and future events. Super cool. I’m not sure it’s something that will bring lapsed players back to the platform, but it’s bound to be great for retaining existing fans.