American developer Niantic decided to cut 8% of its staff amid economic difficulties and problems with creating their own metaverse. The layoffs affected 85 to 90 people.
Last November, the Pokemon GO developer raised $300 million, pushing the company's market value to $9 billion.
Niantic CEO John Hanke said the company is being forced to cut costs to prepare for likely economic problems down the road. In addition, the studio has canceled four projects, including a Heavy Metal Transformers game with the Hamlet theater troupe, as well as two other projects called Snowball and Blue Sky. The recently announced NBA All-World and Peridot will probably not be affected.
Pokémon GO brings in over $1 billion annually to Niantic. Other studio games have not been as successful. According to Sensor Tower, Pikmin Bloom, released in October, has been downloaded about 5.6 million times in all time, the company managed to earn about $6.8 million on it. Pokemon GO brought Niantic $500 million in the first three months after the release, this figure makes it the most fastest growing game in the history of mobile gaming.
In addition to mobile augmented reality games, Niantic is creating the Lightship AR developer kit, which makes AR game development tools available to the public free of charge to anyone with basic knowledge of the Unity game engine. However, from the beginning of 2023, access to the tools will become paid.
In May, Niantic introduced AR visual positioning technology on the Lightship VPS map, which allows developers to link 3D models to real places in cities and display them in augmented reality.
In March, Niantic removed Pokemon GO, Ingress, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite from digital stores in Russia and Belarus. The company promised to stop serving already downloaded games on the territory of designated countries.
Sources: Python.Engineering, techrunch.com