Niantic, Inc.: Pokemon Go and the Rise of Augmented Reality Gaming
In the summer of 2016, the unprecedented growth of Pok mon GO introduced augmented reality into mainstream gaming. Pok mon GO was developed by San Francisco-based Niantic, Inc. (Niantic), a highly successful spinoff from Google Inc., which partnered with the Japanese video game company Nintendo Co., Ltd. to bring the popular video game franchise into the mobile gaming sphere. Niantic's version included the innovative use of augmented reality, a technology that merged artificial reality with the real world. Although this strategy was a fresh approach, it also presented risks. Niantic was determined to shut down cheating apps and websites that were overloading the company's servers and giving some players unfair advantages. Some players were dismayed by Niantic's actions and by the apps and websites themselves, while others predicted that the game's popularity would disappear as quickly as it had grown. By late 2016, Niantic needed to decide how to move forward. Should Pok mon GO continue to evolve as an augmented-reality game, with teams and live events, or should Niantic create a new gaming experience focused on features from the original Pok mon games? Alternatively, should the company partner with third-party developers, including those that had developed popular cheating apps and websites? Finally, how should Niantic fund its unexpected growth?