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Niantic lays off staff and shuts down games as it focuses on Pokémon Go

Niantic lays off staff and shuts down games as it focuses on Pokémon Go


Around 230 staffers are being laid off.

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Somebody playing Pokémon Go and trying to catch Mewtwo.
Photo by Sam Byford / The Verge

Niantic is making some major organizational changes, including layoffs, game shutdowns, and the closure of its Los Angeles studio, according to an email from Niantic CEO John Hanke shared on the company’s website. The changes are designed to narrow the company’s focus, especially on developing and maintaining its cash cow, Pokémon Go.

Pokémon Go is nearing its seventh birthday, and it’s still incredibly relevant; according to Sensor Tower data shared in June 2022, the game has earned about $1 billion in revenue per year. But it’s shut down later attempts to recapture lightning in a bottle, including games based on Harry Potter, Catan, and four other titles as part of layoffs last year. Other companies haven’t had much success with the genre, either; Microsoft shut down Minecraft Earth, and CD Projekt Red is officially shuttering its AR game in The Witcher series on June 30th.

Alongside this round of layoffs, which will affect about 230 employees, Niantic will be “sunsetting” its NBA game, NBA All World, Hanke said, and will stop production on its Marvel game, Marvel World of Heroes.

Despite the many game shutdowns, Niantic remains “long term believers in augmented reality as the future form factor for computing,” Hanke said. The company is also keeping an eye on mixed reality devices like the Meta Quest Pro and Apple Vision Pro, which he says are “an intermediate stepping stone to true outdoor AR devices.”

Moving forward, Niantic’s “top priority” is to “keep Pokémon Go healthy and growing as a forever game,” according to Hanke. The company will still develop and support games like Pikmin Bloom, Peridot, and Monster Hunter Now. And it’s continuing to invest in its AR platforms for developers.