The developer of Pokemon Go, a hit-maker for expanded reality, has attracted 200 million USD in new funding. The financing Series B of Niantic Inc comes only a few weeks after released plans for a new title called “Harry Potter: Wizards Unit”. Niantic gained prominence in the summer of 2016, when millions of Pokemon Go players slid across city streets and parks to pursue digital monsters with their smartphones.
Funding has been run by Spark Capital, including Founders Fund, Meritech, Javelin Venture Partners, and You & Mr. Jones and the internet company NetEase Inc.
Chief Executive Officer, John Hanke, said in an email that funding would allow new company strategic projects.
Pokemon Go has made 1 billion USD in revenue worldwide just seven months after the game was released last July – faster than any other mobile game, including Activision Blizzard’s Candy Crush Saga. In its game Niantic combines location tracking and added reality, a technology that covers digital images on real environments. Players can search for favorite monsters on a digital map with their phones. When they reach certain locations on the map, they see digital images of the popular characters mixed in a real environment.
The San Francisco-based Niantic is also the maker of Ingress – another mobile game that combines added reality and was released years before Pokemon Go, but unfortunately the game never gained popularity.
Pokemon Go spent 74 consecutive days as the most downloaded Apple iOS app in the US in 2016. Now, almost a year and a half after the game, Niantic has the task of proving that it has not done a single miracle. Several other games with added reality have emerged in the meantime on the market. The analysts say Pokemon Go’s real innovation lies in location-based gambling that makes players get out of their sofa in the living room and go outside looking for virtual monsters.
John Hanke argues that the new capital will allow the company to make long-term investments in the field of added reality.
Niantic has taken advantage of popular brands to create more games. Earlier this month, the manufacturer announced it will build Pokemon Go’s successor through a partnership with Warner Bros, creating themed Harry Potter games. The game promises to use the expanded reality to bring some of the imaginary beasts of the Harry Potter franchise into real cities and neighborhoods. Players will even learn to make spells to cope with digital creatures.
Earlier, under fundraising from Series A, Niantic raised 30 million USD in 2015 from Google and Nintendo.
Since then, industry has seen a series of venture capitalist deals in this direction. Exploring or virtual reality technology companies raised 131 million USD through 47 deals in 2016 and 263 million USD in 51 deals this year. These figures do not take into account the two funding cycles of Magic Leap Inc of 1.2 billion USD
The publicly traded technology companies also rely on the added reality. Earlier this year, Apple introduced ARKit to offer developers tools for creating apps for added reality. Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., released a compelling software system called ARCore, while Facebook Inc. and Snap Inc. also develop products in this category.
Following the new funding, Spark Capital’s partner, Megan Quinn, will become part of the Niantic Board of Directors.