The gaming company that brought the successful “Pokemon Go” mobile app to life has its sights set on a professional sports league with a similar goal of getting people outside to play.
What Happened: Niantic is working on a licensed game from the National Basketball Association (NBA) called "NBA All-World." The plan is to “bring basketball to life in all new ways.”
The game’s senior producer, Marcus Matthews, called the game a dream project citing his love of sports and playing basketball video games. Matthews also worked as a producer on the first NBA 2K game while at Sega. A unit of Take-Two Interactive TTWO, the NBA 2K franchise is one of the bestselling sports games annually.
"NBA All-World" will appeal to both casual and core hoops fans, Matthews said, describing it as “NBA lifestyle meets the real-world metaverse” .
"We’re enveloping the world around you into a basketball universe, or what I personally like to call turning the real world into a basketball theme park," he added. "Places and objects in the real world will become video game items."
The new type of game feature 1-on-1 basketball action, connect to the real world, and include elements like collecting and fashion. According to The Verge, the new NBA-themed game will have augmented reality elements and be location-based, which could send gamers out into the wild to interact similar to "Pokemon Go."
Gameplay is similar to other Niantic games with a map that shows points of interest on the phone.
Matthews mentioned being able to collect stamina for NBA players and customizable merchandise at real-world locations.
Players will be tasked with collecting NBA players by locating them and “beating them” on the map, which could be similar to “Pokemon Go.”
Those interested in the game can pre-register now. The game will be available on iOS devices from Apple Inc. AAPL and Android devices. The game is expected to launch in time for the next NBA season, which kicks off in October.
Related Link: More Nintendo Characters Are Coming To Pokemon Go Styled Mobile Games
Why It’s Important: "Pokemon Go" — one of the most successful mobile games of all-time — helped put Niantic on the map and generated more than $1 billion in revenue each year for the company, according to TechCrunch.
The company was valued at $9 billion in a funding round in late 2021. Among Niantic's investors are Nintendo Co. NTDOY, NetEase Inc NTES and Alphabet Inc GOOG GOOGL.
Separately, Niantic announced it was laying off 8% of its staff and canceling other projects in the pipeline, including “Hamlet,” “Blue Sky” and “Snowball.”
A Transformers-themed game that was in beta testing, as part of a deal with Hasbro Inc. HAS, was also nixed.
Niantic's other game titles, including “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” and “Pikmin Bloom,” enjoyed moderate success.
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