Niantic, the developer behind Pokemon GO, Pikmin Bloom, and the recently shut-down Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, might just be a company you’re going to be hearing a whole lot more from, and it’s not because they’ve got another adorable hit game lined-up. Shortly following Facebook’s rebranding to Meta, Niantic has also announced they are also getting more heavily involved in creating virtual spaces. As a result, the studio has received a $300 million investment from Coature, valuating the company at $9 billion. With this funding, Niantic intends to get to work on a “Real-World Metaverse,” a platform for AR based on a 3D map of the world, according to The Wrap.
However, if all that brings to mind a world of people strapped in VR headsets, rest assured that Niantic CEO and founder John Hanke agrees that that sounds like a “dystopian nightmare.” Rather than using VR, Hanke is focused on implementing AR technology, merging the real world with the digital in hopes of making it more “magical, fun, and informative.”
“We’re building a future where the real world is overlaid with digital creations, entertainment and information, making it more magical, fun and informative,” Hanke said. “This will take a significant investment of talent, technology and imagination, and we’re thrilled that Coatue is on this journey with us.”
Matt Mazzeo, a general partner at investor Coatue, said the company is thrilled to partner with Niantic because they see “this infrastructure supporting a metaverse for the real world and helping to power the next evolution of the internet.” According to Mazzeo, Coatue believes the unique, AR-based on a 3D map of the world Niantic is currently building “will play a critical role in the next transition in computing,” making them more than happy to invest $300 million into the endeavor.
All this news follows Niantic announcing the creation of their new developer’s kit, Lightship, earlier this month. With the creation of Lightship, various partners — such as Coachella, Historic Royal Palaces, Lifull, the PGA of America, Science Museum Group, Shueisha, SoftBank, the artist JR and Superblue, TRIPP, Universal Pictures, and Warner Music Group — will have the ability to use the same AR technology utilized by Niantic to create Pokemon GO to build their own AR experiences. In addition to Lightship, Niantic also unveiled Niantic Ventures, “a $20 million fund to help identify and fund the AR leaders of tomorrow.”