Niantic, the studio primarily responsible for Pokémon Go, is having a hard time finding its next big game. And new information shows the studio has canceled several projects and laid off team members to “downsize and streamline” operations.
The San Francisco-based company laid off 85 to 90 direct jobs and canceled the development of four games, including the game transformers announced in 2021 under the title Heavy metalaccording to a Bloomberg report earlier today.
Niantic faces turbulent times ahead, CEO says
Bloomberg reported that Niantic CEO John Hanke sent an email to the team saying the company “I am facing a turbulent economic time” and that after cutting costs, Niantic will still be needed “a further downgrade of our performance to better prepare for future economic storms”
The other three canceled games featured names such as Blue sky e Snowballin addition to the game called Hamletwhich will be a studio collaboration with a theater company called PunchDrunk.
Niantic had great success in 2016 with the release of Pokémon Go, but has not been able to replicate that success with any other game since. In 2019, the studio released Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which never gained a massive player base and was discontinued earlier this year. The studio even released games based on Pikmin e Catanwhich also failed.
Kotaku contacted a Niantic representative who confirmed the layoffs and also confirmed that support for Pokémon Go will continue.
“We recently decided to stop production on some projects and cut our workforce by around 80% to focus on our key priorities,” tell us about Niantic. “We are grateful for the contributions of those leaving Niantic, and we will be here to support them through this difficult transition.”
The studio also told Kotaku that this change will help Niantic focus on “new experience” in that “will continue to invest in the future of augmented reality”.
Personally, I do not see how an 80% reduction in staff will lead to any growth in the company, usually the opposite is true. Who knows how long Pokémon Go will be long enough to pay Niantic’s bills, but mass layoffs are never a good sign.