In the hurly-burly world of video gaming, most people only play the hits. Niantic Labs is behind one of the biggest mobile games ever, Pokémon Go, which it published in collaboration with Nintendo.
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But will it be a one-hit wonder? Investors are reportedly betting against that outcome, instead believing in the magical possibilities of Niantic’s next title.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Niantic is in the midst of raising a new round of funding. The game publisher could raise as much as $200 million in a deal that values Niantic at $3.9 billion, according to the Journal’s sources.
WSJ reports that IVP (née Institutional Venture Partners) is expected to lead the deal. Samsung Electronics Co. and aXiomatic Gaming are reportedly participating in the round. aXiomatic Gaming also invested in Fortnite-maker Epic Games’s huge $1.3 billion venture round in October.
Niantic has a track record of producing very engaging (and very profitable) games. Its most popular title to date is Pokémon Go, but it’s working on a new title with a tie-in to another favorite franchise of 90s kids.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite has a 2019 release date. The game will implement many of the same mechanics as Pokémon Go, such as turning real-world places like public parks into special in-game locations using augmented reality capabilities in many modern smartphones.
Pokémon Go wasn’t Niantic’s first location-driven mobile game with augmented reality elements 1, it’s far and away the most lucrative. A SensorTower report covering the two years between Pokémon Go’s launch in July 2016 and July 2018 found that Niantic generated approximately $1.8 billion in revenue from the game.
The obvious question to ask is whether the new Harry Potter title will eclipse Pokémon Go’s commercial success. Given how Pokémon Go rekindled a bit of childhood nostalgia for many of the most cynical among us (this reporter included), it’s likely a lot of us will sling some spells at one another as well.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias