“There are many other games that have tried to copy and paste the Pokémon Go concept onto their IP. I don’t think it works so well,” explains Archit Bhargava, Director, Worldwide Product Marketing – Niantic, Inc. Why the industry hasn’t been able to produce yet another hit augmented reality (AR) mobile game that matches the hype, scale and social nature of Pokémon Go.
Bhargava adds that creating a game like Pokémon GO requires not only technical skills and infrastructure, but a better understanding of cell phone network technology to do the right amount of processing on the app on the smartphone itself for a smooth and intuitive experience. is needed. Definitely not easy,” he tells indianexpress.com On a video call from San Francisco.
“AR is something that should not feel like it is slapped on a game experience. It should feel like it is really adding to this experience,” says Bhargava. “We are still in the early stages , I think it will take a lot of iteration, a lot of work to get the concept of AR into something more mainstream.” AR, as the name suggests, mixes digital imagery and information with the real world.
But Bhargava expects the company’s big gamble to develop the market for augmented reality (AR) based mobile games will bear fruit in the future. Its latest AR game, “Pikmin Bloom,” borrows a lot of basic elements from Pokémon Go, but offers an entirely different experience. The game made its debut in Western markets late last year and is now heading to India, the world’s second largest smartphone market. It is available for free to download from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
The main goal of “Pikmin Bloom” is to introduce you to the use of cute little creatures called Pikmins. In Pikmin Bloom you plant Pikmins, which automatically grow as you go, then you break them. The more you move, the more Pikmin friends you can make.
Niantic’s Tokyo studio has worked directly with Nintendo on “Pikmin Bloom.” Pikmin is not as popular as Nintendo’s original IP, but it has a loyal following. “Pickmin Bloom” [the game] It was a collaborative effort between Niantic and Nintendo,” Bhargava said, adding that while Nintendo does not have experience making real-world games, Niantic has a decade-long experience in making such products.
When the game launched last year, it lacked many features, but both Niantic and Nintendo quickly figured out what was missing, Bhargava acknowledged, the element of social gameplay in particular. To make “Pikmin Bloom” more compelling for users, Niantic recently introduced walking challenges and the ability to invite your friends, no matter where they are. The idea is to inspire you to step out of the house and walk more and have the fun of playing Pikmin Bloom.
“When we launch our products, we launch them globally, but it takes a lot of foundation building for the products to work really well,” Bhargava explained why this is the US. And a long gap between the launch of the Games in India.
Though Bhargava called India a strategically important market, he said markets like the US have more potential to play its game. “There are too many cities and countries like the US and Japan that are a lot more walking friendly, we have mapped out more places on our map,” he said. “It’s really a combination of manual and algorithm.” “We started this process for India about four years ago, and we are improving,” he said.
Bhargava didn’t reveal India’s share in what made Pokémon Go today’s hit, but said the number of people playing the AR game continues to grow. Pokemon Go has a massive fanbase, with players spending more than $5 billion on AR games in the five years since Pokémon Go launched, according to a report from analytics firm Sensor Tower.
Despite the popularity of mobile games like Battlegrounds Mobile India and Call of Duty: Mobile in India, Bhargava believes games have a niche and market where Niantic has flourished over the years. “The games we make get people out there, moving, exploring, and connecting with others in the real world. And if you go to one of their events, it’s pure magic. It’s like being in the Disneyland version of the game.” as it is.” Bhargava was referring to the Pokémon Go Fest event which is usually held in major global cities. India has recently joined this list.
Bhargava, who grew up in Mumbai and later went on to pursue an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley, says Niantic has shown the world how to make real-world games that are interactive and social at the same time. . Niantic rose to fame with the popular location-based game “Ingress,” then an internal startup within Google. However, in 2015, Niantic Labs split from Google to become an independent company. Niantic considers Nintendo as well as Google as its investor.
With the tech industry counting on the metaverse as the next big thing, Niantic earlier this year announced its Lightship AR developer kit to offer tools for building augmented reality games. Niantic’s devices make it easy to build augmented reality solutions for smartphones that don’t require additional technology. The company has also revealed that it is working with Hasbro on a Pokémon Go-style Transformers game. It is also developing an AR pet game called Peridot; This is an original title featuring a mix of Pokémon and Tamagotchi.