niantic labs

See: Ingress

Pokemon Go adds more Hoenn pokemon and declares them egg-worthy

You are not getting access to all of the Hoenn-region pokemon added to Pokemon Go with the game’s newest update. That’s the bad news. But that update does add another 23 critters from the region, so you have a wider selection of monsters to include in your lineups! (That’s Groudon slinking off in the background, but we don’t know why he’s pouting about showing up. Maybe he’s shy.)

Not enough promise to make you excited about the game? Well, the pot is sweetened somewhat by ensuring that even just grabbing some eggs is enough to unlock some Generation III pokeymans. For a limited (and undisclosed) time period, every egg you hatch will contain a pokemon from the Hoenn region. So get catching and get hatching. The tagline, you see, is that you have to catch them all. That’s a lot to catch.

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Raining outside? Sidewalks covered in snow? Better run out and play… Pokemon Go!

It’s an interesting time to be a Pokemon Go player. Niantic’s put out two events that greatly reduced the game’s grind and setting community goals, granting regional ‘mon back-to-back. But the company still seems susceptible to weird missteps in its progress, and the latest news only reinforces that reality. Not only is the company slowly releasing new Pokemon later this week, but it’s rolling out changes that ensure real-life weather affects the game.

While Niantic (wisely) didn’t mention whether fires, sandstorms, or lightning are included in the new mechanics, effects like sun, rain, and snow are, which still might seem like a bad idea if you live in a place that has seriously bad weather. Depending on the weather, you may see more Pokemon that fit in with the environment (and you’ll snag some bonus stardust) while you’ll also find that relevant move types increase in damage. In other words, Niantic is incentivizing you to play Pokemon Go in terrible climate conditions. Even fog is included, and while I’d love to see more mysterious Pokemon spawning in my fog-heaven-hometown, maybe enticing out-of-towners who aren’t used to driving in it at 3 a.m. with rewards isn’t the best idea Niantic’s ever had.

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Niantic will reboot Ingress into Ingress Prime next year

Niantic is delivering a massive upgrade for Ingress next year. “Reboot” might even be a more appropriate term.

The company most people know for its bumbling stewardship of Pokemon Go actually launched Ingress in 2012 as a Google venture but then was spun off into its own company. Prior to POGO, Ingress was surely the biggest player in the alternate reality mobile MMO genre, pitting gamers against each other in a massive cyber war overlaid on the real one and causing my husband to drive out of our way to that pancake house in Sacramento to “capture” the node at its infamous bear statue more than once.

So if you are an Ingress player who’s been feeling like the proverbial red-headed stepchild while POGO got all the love and Harry Potter joins the fray, the announcement of what Niantic is calling Ingress Prime ought to fill you with glee. The reboot will boast retooled graphics and an improved UI as it moves to POGO’s more modern tech platform to make the game more appealing to newbies and also crack down on cheating. Critically, Niantic says the game will be “fully staffed,” contrary to the studio’s olden days when it had to shut down player node submissions because it lacked staff to approve them.

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Pokemon Go’s EX Raid invite system still baffles core players

Niantic’s recent Pokemon Go event succeeded where the Pokemon Company failed, with POGO players catching over 3 billion Pokemon well before the end of the event. I felt pride for my community and had begun thinking that despite the other event being for an enhanced version of a proper Pokemon game released last year, maybe Niantic was starting to better understand its audience.

Maybe that’s still true. However, it may also be that its game developers’ goals don’t align with players’. Just last week, POGO players were told that big changes had hit the game without the need for a client-side update. Our rewards were sweeter, cherished ‘mon returned to the raid boss list, and best of all, the exclusive, automated, invite-only EX Raids granting the only current way to obtain the strongest Pokemon, Mewtwo, would be granted to players who raid frequently and had ground-out reputation. This would replace the seemingly random system we’d been dealing with since the release of EX raids.

Apparently, though, the EX Raid changes either aren’t live or Niantic’s statements about how they would work were inaccurate.

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Harry Potter ARG won’t drag down Pokemon Go’s development, Niantic says

Now that we’re all waving around sticks and shouting garbled Latin in preparation for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, it is entirely possible that players in Niantic Labs’ other mobile ARGs might feel concerned that they are about to be benched in favor of the Boy Who Lived.

Not so, says Niantic Labs: “Just like many of you, we’re super excited about Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and are working hard with our partners at Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and WB Games San Francisco’s development team to bring that to life. However, we — the Pokemon Go development team — want to say that we are 100% committed to creating an ever-changing and growing game that gets our players exploring, meeting each other, and deepening their connection to the Pokémon universe. We’re actively expanding the Pokemon Go development team to build many more amazing features in 2018.”

There’s potential in this game to be a smash hit: The Harry Potter franchise made $25 billion in 2016 alone, showing that its fandom is still alive and thriving. However, few specifics and no screenshots of the game have been revealed so far.

Wonder what we think of the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite announcement? Tune in to yesterday’s podcast or read our essay about the implications of a smartphone Wizarding World!

Source: Niantic Labs

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Divining the details of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite from a Pokemon Go player’s perspective

When we first heard rumors about a Harry Potter version of Pokemon Go, I said I could barely imagine what the game might be like before listing several other IPs that would translate better as AR games. It’s not that I don’t like the Harry Potter series (I do) or Niantic (someone’s got to push the envelope). My issue is that I can’t see how their respective styles could combine to create something great.

So I’ve gone back to some of my pre-POGO notes about Ingress and what would need to change before it went live and, well, Niantic clearly thinks differently than I do because this game is very much happening. I thought it might be useful to consider Niantic’s past and how it may affect its upcoming game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Let’s dig in.

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The MOP Up: EVE Online eases you into its universe (November 12, 2017)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from KurtzPelPath of ExileThe Black DeathSMITEEVE OnlineDreadnoughtHeroes of the StormTERA MBattleriteDragon Quest RivalsFinal Fantasy XIAionPokemon GoVendetta OnlineIngress, and Old School RuneScape, all waiting for you after the break!

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Niantic accios a Harry Potter mobile MMOARG

Like the idea of a mobile augmented reality game (ARG) but aren’t really keen on Pokémon? Niantic, the operator of Ingress and Pokémon Go, is branching out to include an additional franchise that should rope non-muggles into its community.

The company announced that it working with WB Games to make Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, set in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite uses state-of-the-art augmented reality technology to reveal the magic all around us,” the teaser site says. “Explore real-world neighbourhoods and cities to discover mysterious artifacts, learn to cast spells, and encounter legendary beasts and iconic characters along the way!”

Niantic CEO John Hanke said that this game will give fans of the series a real-world outlet for their passion: “The beloved Harry Potter stories have captured imaginations worldwide for more than 20 years, and soon we’ll turn the fantasy into augmented reality, allowing fans and their friends to become wizards and witches.”

Wizards Unite is one of several titles being developed by WB’s Portkey Games for mobile and console. More details about the game will be forthcoming in the new year.

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Underdog Pokemon Go players took over the capital of Croatia

But it’s cool; they gave it back.

We’re talking, of course, about Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, which is apparently a flourishing Pokemon Go city with 420 gyms thanks to seeding years ago by Ingress players. A group of Croatian gamers were trying to conjure a way to persuade Niantic to switch a famous Croatian POGO trainer to the outnumbered Instinct faction when they hatched a plan to put together a massive 70-man raid to help the tiny team take over the whole city — that is, all 420 gyms — which necessitated crews of players and a fleet of cars to zip around the capital all day and all night in shifts. And they pulled it off.

“The biggest pride for us is that we managed to organize such a mission and did everything in it 100% legit play – not a single multiaccount was placed in a gym to make it stronger,” Redditor LekoZG writes. “Maybe we demolished all other gyms in the city, but what we built is far more valuable – a strong, positive and forward-looking community of players.”

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Pokemon Go: Milwaukee County lawsuit injunction and preparing for legendaries

Back in February, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, tried to prevent Pokemon Go player-inflicted park damage by requiring ARG developers, including Niantic, to acquire permits before implementing games within the park. The county was subsequently sued by Texas Rope’ Em dev Candy Lab AR this past spring, and now, a judge has granted an injunction blocking enforcement of the ordinance until after the lawsuit’s been resolved, noting not only that it’s unconstitutional but nearly impossible to execute.

In happier POGO news, Legendary Pokemon are coming to Pokemon Go. Unlike other Pokemon, Legendaries cannot be put into gyms to defend, but they should make raids a little bit easier. Trainers at the Chicago event will have a set of challenges to meet, but players not attending also need to help out. PokemonGO Hub has a great chart for finding out when the events begin if you need a little guidance. On the way to legendaries, players can unlock bonuses to just about everything, from Star Dust to increased spawns.

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Pokemon Go’s first anniversary report card

July 6th, 2017, marks Pokemon Go’s first year anniversary. Love it or hate it, it’s a game that quickly made a global impact. It’s been released in at least 129 countries since January 2017, while MMO heavyweight World of Warcraft doesn’t even have Middle Eastern servers, let alone any located in Africa. Niantic has kind of waffled back and forth with its labeling of the game as an MMO, but the comparison is clear. While PoGo is more of a local multiplayer game, Massively OP staff have noted that local, non-digital games are also quite popular in MMO gamer circles. It may not be a true MMO, but Pokemon Go as a Massively Local Multiplayer Game feels like a logical evolution of our genre. ARPGs are one thing when they’re solo, but trying to build a game that puts a literal global audience on the same map feels significant.

It’s not a simple evolution, though. The genre itself is already being attacked in the courts. It has led to players being mugged, shot, and even killed, a situation we’ve seen in MMOs before. Luckily, we’ve yet to see trainer vs. trainer real-world violence. As many of you probably experienced, part of that may be due to the 80% reduction in playerbase before today’s first anniversary, though the game continues to make money.

Let’s review what the game’s changed since it’s release last year.

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Pokemon Go: The Milwaukee lawsuit, rare Pikachu, and the gym reporting problem

It’s been almost a year now since non-expat Americans were able to play Niantic’s Pokemon Go. While we’re naturally seeing birthday rumors, the game’s unique position in gaming has led to continued lawsuit issues over AR and Niantic’s struggle with moderating its content.

Rumors of a shiny Pikachu are being linked with both a brief “one-year anniversary” line of code that was recently datamined and news that Niantic will release a “rare Pikachu” at ACM Siggraph.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit between Candy LAB AR and Milwaukee County that we previously reported has led to the two sides exchanging words, none more damning than those of the county:

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E3 2017: Pokemon Go’s raiding, gym revamp, badges, and an interview with Niantic

Surprise! Niantic brought Pokemon Go to E3 2017 and invited members of the gaming press outside the sacred halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center to check out the upcoming raid system at a nearby gym. We were granted not just some juicy details on upcoming changes but a rare chance to interview several key members of the team, including Senior Product Manager Tatsuo Nomura, Global Product Marketing Lead Archit Bhargava, and a bit of time with Niantic Director of Engineering Edward Wu.

Perhaps more so than the Generation 2 update, summer feels like it’s bringing an expansion-like update to the free to play game.

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