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Pokémon Go Creator Has a Plan to Be More Than a One-Hit Wonder

The company is announcing a new Transformers game and shifting toward creating tools for other developers.

Playing Pokémon Go in Paris.

Playing Pokémon Go in Paris.

Photographer: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images
Updated on

Pokémon Go—a game based on people using their smartphones to chase virtual characters through public spaces together—probably should have died during the pandemic. Instead, Niantic Inc., the company behind the game, tweaked the experience of playing indoors and managed to pull in its already committed user base in even deeper. Monthly active users increased 15% in the year through May, and consumer spending on the app soared 49% over the same period, to $1.4 billion, according to data from Sensor Tower.

The success has been a boon for Niantic, which was founded inside Alphabet Inc.’s Google in 2010 and spun off into an independent company five years later. It also presents a challenge: The company depends deeply on the game but knows it needs a new hit. On June 14 it’s announcing a deal with Hasbro Inc. for a Transformers game, the most recent result of a series of partnerships with content companies. Simultaneously, Niantic is looking to transform itself into something more than a game studio while it’s still a leader in the nascent but heavily hyped augmented reality industry.