Niantic, the augmented reality platform behind Pokémon GO, has raised $300 million at a $9 billion valuation to build the “real-world metaverse.” The fresh funds, from investor Coatue, will also be used to develop current games and new apps, and expand its Lightship developer platform.
Earlier this month, the company launched its Lightship AR Developer Kit (ARDK) that offers tools to developers to make AR games for free. It’ll help global developers to “realize their visions for augmented reality and the Real-World Metaverse”, Niantic wrote in a blog. Furthermore, it also launched a $20 million fund, titled ‘Niantic Ventures’, to support “the AR leaders of tomorrow.”
What is Niantic’s vision for the metaverse?
Niantic’s plans for the metaverse is much different from that of Meta’s vision of creating a virtual world where people can immerse themselves using VR tech. Instead, Niantic aims to add a digital layer to the real world. Essentially, the company wants people to explore the real world together, much like its game, Pokémon Go.
“We’re building a future where the real world is overlaid with digital creations, entertainment and information, making it more magical, fun and informative,” said John Hanke, Niantic’s Founder and CEO.
For this, the company is building an AR platform based on a 3D map of the world. This, according to Coatue General Partner, Matt Mazzeo, will play a crucial role in “the next transition in computing.”
Pokémon Go is Niantic’s biggest success, earning over $1 billion last year. The company has also developed games like Ingress and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. However, it recently announced its plans to shut down the latter after a steep fall in global installs.