Pokemon GO developer Niantic has big plans for 2018 including adding more features to its current game and launching a brand new game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. But it now seems that Niantic's plans also include acquiring other companies to work on pioneering new technology.
Today, Niantic announced that it has completed the acquisition of Escher Reality, a company that specializes in the advancement of augmented reality (AR), the technology behind Pokemon GO. In a press release, Niantic explains that "Escher’s innovations focus on exploring the intersection of digital and physical worlds, augmented reality (AR), and computer vision. Escher’s technology helps to build persistent, cross platform, multi-user experiences."
The acquisition "significantly accelerates our work on persistent, shared AR as part of the Niantic real-world application platform," says Niantic. The Pokemon GO developer also says that it wants to make its cross-platform AR technology available to more developers in 2018. Meanwhile, the Escher Reality team says that its long-term vision is to "bring shared and persistent AR experiences to millions of people around the world, and further realize AR's impact going forward."
The press release doesn't offer specifics about what the six-person Escher Reality team will be doing at Niantic, but the possibilities are quite exciting. With Pokemon GO's AR+ features, Niantic has already shown that it would like to push AR technology forward. Escher Reality appears to share that same vision.
Niantic has also expressed a keen interest in incorporating audio with AR games, having said that it does not believe that AR games should be a solely visual experience. Pokemon GO's visual nature may have been many people's first taste of AR gaming and AR technology, but Niantic wants to expand well beyond that.
The developer doesn't just want to push AR forward, though. Niantic also has plans for social features, having purchased a company called Evertoon last year. Pokemon GO has lacked any serious social features but the acquisition of an entirely new company further suggests that Niantic is serious about advancing in its field.
At this point, it is unclear exactly how these AR and social developments might manifest with Pokemon GO, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and any future Niantic games. However, the acquisitions do show that Niantic wants to revolutionize the field of mobile gaming as opposed to retreading the same Pokemon GO formula that has already proved so successful. The developer must realize that this will grow stale eventually and it will need to do something bold to have continued success.