Pokémon Go developer Niantic has canceled four projects, including Transformers: Heavy Metal, as the gaming company seeks to “focus” on its top priorities. The San Francisco-based software development company is also laying off more than 80 people from its workforce.
In an internal email seen by Bloomberg, Niantic CEO John Hanke told staff that the company was “facing a time of economic turmoil.” Hanke explained that despite earlier efforts to cut increasing costs, the company still had to “further streamline our operations in order to best position the company to weather any economic storms that may lie ahead.” Aside from the layoffs, Niantic also decided to drop four projects, including Transformers: Heavy Metal and Project Hamlet, which is a partnership game with immersive theatre company Punchdrunk.
The two other canceled projects are called Snowball and Blue Sky, Tech Crunch reported. It is worth noting that Transformers: Heavy Metal has been under beta testing since last summer.
In a statement to The Verge, Niantic Vice President of communications Jonny Thaw confirmed the report. “We recently decided to stop production on some projects and reduce our workforce by about eight percent to focus on our key priorities.”
Thaw went on to explain that the recent developments will allow the augmented reality (AR) giant to focus on Pokémon Go “and a select set of new experiences, as well as the Lightship platform.” Lightship is Niantic’s toolset platform that allows developers “to create innovative, real-world AR experiences that inspire movement and encourage exploration.”
While Thaw did not go into details regarding the new experiences Niantic is working on for its audiences, the layoffs and project cancelations came about a day after the Ingress creator announced NBA All-World, an AR game expected to be available on iOS and Android devices.
During an online media briefing earlier this week, NBA All-World senior producer Marcus Matthews said the game “is where the NBA’s gaming and lifestyle meets the real world metaverse,” Polygon reported. Matthews added that the game will turn “the real world into a basketball theme park.”
With its latest moves, Niantic joined a cluster of gaming and software development companies that laid off people this year, including video game company Blizzard, video game developer Hangar 13, and multinational conglomerate Tencent, specifically in its gaming unit.
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