After its launch in 2016, Pokémon Go became a global sensation, with players collectively walking 8.7 million kilometres in its first year alone. Niantic, the company behind the mobile game, has since struggled to find another game as successful, and has now made the decision to cancel four projects which will cut around 85 to 90 jobs.
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Niantic Chief Executive Officer John Hanke reportedly wrote in an email to staff (via, Bloomberg) that the company was “facing a time of economic turmoil” and that it was already “reducing costs in a variety of areas”. Hanke further commented that Niantic needs to “further streamline our operations in order to best position the company to weather any economic storms that may lie ahead.”
The cancelled projects included Heavy Metal, a Transformers game announced by Niantic in 2021, and Hamlet, a collaboration between Niantic and Punchdrunk, the company behind the popular interactive play Sleep No More. It also included the code named projects Blue Sky and Snowball, of which no further information seems to be available.
Surprisingly, given the success of Pokémon Go, Niantic has struggled to find similar success with its other efforts. Earlier this year, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was shut down after launching only three years prior, in 2019.
A spokesperson for Niantic said, “We recently decided to stop production on some projects and reduce our workforce by about 8% to focus on our key priorities,” and continued to explain that, “We are grateful for the contributions of those leaving Niantic and we are supporting them through this difficult transition.”
In other news, an unprecedented amount of confidential game data was leaked online in 2020 and Nintendo has finally responded to the “gigaleak” by stating that it has increased security measures.