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Pokémon Go maker Niantic cancels multiple projects, lays off staff

Bloomberg report says 8% of employees and 4 projects slashed

A photo of a phone displaying the Niantic logo Photo: Polygon

Pokémon Go and Pikmin Bloom maker Niantic is cutting costs and canceling games. According to a new report from Bloomberg, the augmented reality technology and game maker is shedding 8% of its staff and scrapping four in-development projects. That includes two previously announced efforts, the AR game Transformers: Heavy Metal and a collaboration with theater company Punchdrunk, known for its immersive play Sleep No More.

Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Niantic CEO John Hanke told employees in an email that the company was “facing a time of economic turmoil” and was looking to rein in costs.

Niantic is best known for its hit mobile game Pokémon Go, a successor to its debut augmented reality title Ingress. Launched in 2016, Pokémon Go was and continues to be a hit for Niantic, and was the fifth-highest grossing mobile game in the U.S. in 2021, according research firm Sensor Tower.

Niantic has attempted to replicate Pokémon Go’s success with other popular properties. In summer 2019, the company launched Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, but it failed to catch on the way Pokémon Go did. Two years after the Wizard World game’s launch, Niantic announced it would be shut down. Niantic later teamed up with Nintendo for Pikmin Bloom, a mobile game that was a modest success and reportedly generated only $5 million in revenue — a far cry from Pokémon Go’s billions in earnings.

Based on Bloomberg’s reporting, it appears that Niantic will continue to move forward with the recently announced NBA All-World, a free-to-play game where players collect NBA stars, buff and customize them with items picked up from visits to real-world locations, and take on other players in one-on-one matches at their neighborhood courts and other locations. Niantic also has an original virtual pet game, Peridot, in development, which it has already soft-launched and plans to release more widely this year.

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