Niantic Lays Off 230 Employees, Closing LA Studio and Cancelling Marvel Game

Niantic Labs, the developer of smash mobile hit Pokémon Go has announced a massive internal restructure. The company is effectively closing its Los Angeles studio, and laying off roughly a quarter of its employees.

Niantic CEO John Hanke shared the content of an email passed along to employees. In it, Hanke states that the studio is having to make “some difficult changes for our organization.” Coming off the heels of COVID-19, Niantic identifies that this restructuring will be essential if the company is to “weather the current challenges in the market and take advantage of the long-term opportunity in front” of them.

As such, roughly 230 employees will be laid off. Additionally, Niantic is “sunsetting” NBA All-World. Plus, it’s been revealed that the development of its Marvel title, Marvel World Heroes, will no longer continue.

Instead, the company will continue to focus on and support Pokémon Go. The AR-based Pokémon game is reaching its seventh anniversary. It’s largely been the studio’s biggest success. “The top priority is to keep Pokémon GO healthy and growing as a forever game,” Hanke states.

Niantic is also ensuring that user retention, revenue and profitability are looked after, especially in regard to Pikmin Bloom, Peridot and Monster Hunter Now. “We are reducing and focusing our platform team in line with the reduced number of games we are building, with the goal to do less, better.”

Finally, Niantic is committed to investing in its AR mapping and platform technology in order to enable developers to “build, grow and monetize their own AR experiences.”

Pokémon Go is Ninantic’s golden goose currently. According to Sensor Tower, Niantic sees its game earn about $1 billion USD (roughly $1.3 billion CAD) in revenue each year. The game has been downloaded over 1 billion times since launching in 2016. Since that time, Niantic has attempted to replicate that success with other games. Harry Potter: Wizard Unite and Catan: World Explorers have both been shuttered since launching.

Niantic isn’t the only studio struggling to grasp user retention within similar games. Microsoft’s Minecraft Earth, an AR game for mobile, is shutting down on June 30th with player data being deleted on July 1st.

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