As Ed Sheeran collaboration begins.
Niantic, the company behind Pokémon Go, is now worth $9bn (£6.7bn) following a new $300m investment (thanks Techcrunch).
The money will go towards Niantic’s previously-detailed company plan at building a “real-world metaverse” via its AR map of the world.
Earlier this year, Niantic set down its vision for how we use technology in the future, and how its version of the so-called metaverse is different from those other companies (such as Epic Games and Facebook) are pursuing.
Simply put, Niantic wants to build a metaverse layer over the real world – so you keep going outside and getting exercise, rather than sitting at home turning into the future humans from WALL-E.
That’s different to the traditional idea of a metaverse where all human interaction, commerce and entertainment takes place in 3D spaces accessed via a static screen – like some nightmarish labyrinth of Microsoft Teams.
Niantic aims to build its metaverse layer using its industry-leading database of physical locations – the points of interest which power PokéStops in Pokémon Go – supplemented by photoscan data of each area.
Of course, Niantic still stands to profit from all of this too – as it does already in a limited way via sponsored content and locations in Pokémon Go.
This week, Pokémon Go began its first big collaboration with a popstar, as it teamed up with Ed Sheeran to host a video of an exclusive performance, and various other in-game activities. It’s a somewhat rudimentary first step, with no AR or location tie-ins, but a timely reminder to the industry of its ability to rope in big names.
Last month I sat down with Niantic to discuss Pokémon Go’s next five years and the future of AR – as well as what might happen if (or, when) the game finally runs out of Pokémon.