niantic labs

See: Ingress

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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The MOP Up: Pox Nora’s PS4 launch (May 28, 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!

This week we have stories and videos from Splatoon 2HellionEpocylipseLogresSteam HammerHEXIngressMabinogi HeroesPox Nora, and Heroes and Generals, all waiting for you after the break!

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The MOP Up: Life is Feudal’s building sim (May 14, 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!

This week we have stories and videos from MapleStoryHeroes of the StormIngressWurm OnlineDCUOHellionLife is FeudalSkyforgeOverwatchH1Z1Final Fantasy XI, all waiting for you after the break!

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Pokemon Go’s first Knight Foundation event is this weekend in North Carolina

Pokemon Go really wants to get you outside and moving. That’s the gist of its new partnership with the Knight Foundation, through which Niantic hope to

“advance civic engagement in local communities around the United States through augmented reality experiences. This partnership will foster discovery, bring communities together and promote engagement within public spaces by leveraging Niantic experiences and technologies including Ingress and Pokémon GO at select community events supported by The Knight Foundation.”

The first event is actually this Sunday in Charlotte, North Carolina, in cooperation with the city government. Anyone down there and thinking of giving it a looksee?

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The Soapbox: Why is Pokemon GO still a tech demo?

I’ve been a bit frustrated with Niantic lately. I love some of its ideas, but I watched someone else play Ingress prior to Pokemon GO’s release, and I noticed very similar problems between the two games after release — problems that the company should have noticed and corrected in its followup.

Recently I decided to try out the former. Both are totally unintuitive. You have to search the UI for the tutorials, though Ingress’ can be accessed only near objectives. You’re asked to join a faction sooner there than in PoGO and with no context beyond 2-3 sentences. The game throws jargon with little to no context at you throughout the tutorial, making it difficult to follow. I walked around, clicking things and used items that I don’t fully understand, not because I’m too lazy to read but because I wanted to understand a game without consulting google. I saw portals get taken without anyone around me as I stood by an objective near a government-restricted area where standing still longer than it takes to read “No Trespassing” could trigger security. I couldn’t get into it, not just because it was simple but because it was poorly designed.

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