Pokémon Go Dev Axes 230 Workers And Pulls The Rug From These 2 Games

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Niantic, the creator of the immensely popular Pokémon Go game, informed its employees that it would be laying off 230 employees and shutting down two of its other titles. Founder John Hanke said the decision came due to the studio's "expenses [growing] faster than revenue."

Niantic is a company whose vision is to improve reality through AR technology. The company's most popular title, Pokémon Go, has enamored players for quite some time, as they venture outside and search for elusive Pokémon through augmented reality. But Pokémon Go is not the company's only game, with others including Peridot, Pikmin Bloom, and Ingress Prime. However, with a beleaguered world economy, the company is making drastic cuts to its employee base and two of its games.

Niantic founder John Hanke told employees via an email, "I have made the decision to narrow our focus for mobile game investments, concentrating on first-party games that most strongly embody our core values of location and local social communities." He added, "The mobile gaming market is very mature and only the best and most differentiated titles have a chance to succeed."

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Screenshot from the announcement trailer for Marvel World of Heroes.

Following that comment, Hanke then informed employees that it would be "sunsetting" NBA All-World and cease production on Marvel: World of Heroes. Because of this, Hanke explained, it would mean having to lay off around 230 Niantics.

Hanke stated that the decision was a byproduct of both internal and external factors. He pointed out that the market is tough right now due to the overall global macroeconomic slowdown and the unique challenges the mobile gaming and AR markets were facing. The founder brought up that the market had changed drastically since the release of Pokémon Go, becoming crowded and making launching new titles extremely difficult.

However, Niantic is bearing part of the blame for its own performance. Hanke remarked, "Today's highly competitive mobile gaming market requires dazzling quality and innovation. It also requires strong monetization and a social core which can drive viral growth and long-term engagement." He added that Niantic had failed to meet its goals in many of the areas needed to succeed.

As to what all of this means for the company, Hanke said the company would remain focused on augmented reality, developing key content and platform services that will enable the company to realize the "promise of this technological shift."

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In order to meet the future goals set out by Hanke, he states Pokémon Go must remain a top priority. Niantic will also focus on making its recently launched games a success (minus NBA All-World), in terms of player retention, revenue, and profitability. It also means a reduction in employees and focusing the remaining team on the reduced number of games, "with the goal to do less, better."

The layoff announcement comes during a time when many tech-related companies are having to cut back on employees and other resources to navigate through a struggling economy. But as Hanke pointed out in his closing remarks in the email, we all hope those affected will go on to "make their own mark in the world in different places."