Niantic lays off 230 staff, cancels two games, closes LA studio


Niantic is laying off 230 staff, sunsetting NBA All-World, closing its LA studio and cancelling forthcoming game Marvel: World of Heroes.

Boss John Hanke confirmed the news in a blog posted on Niantic’s site today, saying that he wants to refocus the company on its mobile game investments and increase its work building software for emerging mixed reality and AR glasses.

Pokémon Go, Pikmin Bloom, Peridot and Monster Hunter Now will continue development, with marquee game Pokémon Go described as the company’s “top priority”.

From February: Niantic’s NBA All-World earned under $160k in its first month.

“We have allowed our expenses to grow faster than revenue,” said Hanke. “In the wake of the revenue surge we saw during Covid, we grew our headcount and related expenses in order to pursue growth more aggressively, expanding existing game teams, our AR platform work, new game projects and roles that support our products and our employees.”

“Post Covid, our revenue returned to pre-Covid levels and new projects in games and platform have not delivered revenues commensurate with those investments.”

He also blamed macroeconomic factors and a tougher mobile game market, referencing “changes to the app store and the mobile advertising landscape”. The AR market is also “developing more slowly than anticipated,” he said.

As we reported previously, Peridot earned Niantic around $800k in its first six weeks on sale.

“We also bear responsibility for our own performance,” he continued. “Today’s highly competitive mobile gaming market requires dazzling quality and innovation. It also requires strong monetisation and a social core which can drive viral growth and long term engagement.”

Hanke concluded by re-affirming that “the top priority is to keep Pokémon GO healthy and growing as a forever game”, and that the company will continue to invest in AR “to enable developers to build, grow and monetize their own AR experiences.”

The remaining staff can also expect “a more direct and results-based culture” in the future.

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