Niantic has built a massive business thanks to Pokémon Go, the AR location-based mobile gaming sensation. And now it’s working with smaller developers to help them use its tech and what it’s learned from pocket monsters and Ingress about making these games work.
Last week, Niantic announced it was setting up a $10 million fund for third-party developers
. It’s a cool deal – not only would the studio get money, but it’d also be working with the Niantic Real World Platform, which is the engine that makes the AR and location-based magic happen in Pokémon Go, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Ingress. And that’s pretty cool. Considering how well Pokémon Go and Ingress work, getting to know how to make apps and games with the platform should be quite a boon for studios.
The second announcement also intrigues me. Niantic is now permitting local businesses to sponsor locations inside its games
. So if you own a comic book shop or a board game store, you can have a boss fight put on your business’s spot on the map. This, of course, makes fantastic sense for places that sell Pokémon cards and other merch, but Dean also points out other good examples, like a diner. Taking on a gym battle while munching on curly fries and sipping on a milkshake sounds like a fantastic way to spend some time gaming with friends.
Location-based AR gaming is still in the first phase of development – the AR is especially rudimentary at this point. But Niantic establishing a fund to for studios and sharing its platform – and what it’s learned – is a good way to help foster the growth of AR and location-based gaming.
–Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor