Despite the continued astronomical success of Pokemon Go, Niantic has just revealed in a Bloomberg report that the company will be canceling four upcoming projects in tandem with cutting 8% of its staff (85-90 employees). This comes after multiple projects have failed to capture the same size audience as their AR titan Pokemon Go.
And it’s not for lack of trying. Niantic has handled IPs such as Harry Potter and Nintendo’s Pikmin, both of which only generated a fraction of the revenue that Pokemon Go has managed. Even so, Niantic has raked in an average of $1 billion annually for the past few years. Yet, Chief Executive Officer John Hanke claims the company faces a “time of economic turmoil.”
Niantic Lays Off Staff, Ends Four Projects
As Hanke puts it, the layoffs and project cancelation are a way for Niantic to “further streamline our operations in order to best position the company to weather any economic storms that may lie ahead.”
The four canceled games are Transformers: Heavy Metal, Hamlet (a collaborative project with Punchdrunk), and two unannounced projects codenamed Blue Sky and Snowball. Despite this bleak news, Niantic still plans to launch NBA All-World – an AR sports title in collaboration with the National Basketball Association.
The hope is that the community-based Basketball mobile game will capture the same “lightning in a bottle” feel of Pokemon Go that Niantic’s other projects have failed to emulate. In early 2023, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was shut down after four years of being on life support, and its second attempt at handling a Nintendo IP in Pikmin Bloom also failed financially.
It’s also worth mentioning that Pokemon Go’s player base has been distraught regarding the current state of the game. There have been two organized strikes over the past three years as a result of gameplay changes, and vocal trainers in forums have sworn off spending money on the title.
Regardless, Pokemon Go continues to be a profitable title if Sensor Tower’s estimates are to be believed. Yet, a spokesperson told Bloomberg, “We recently decided to stop production on some projects and reduce our workforce by about 8% to focus on our key priorities. We are grateful for the contributions of those leaving Niantic, and we are supporting them through this difficult transition.”