Niantic Acquires London Gaming Studio Sensible Object
Pokémon Go developer Niantic has acquired the London-based gaming studio Sensible Object. Sensible Object utilizes voice AI and augmented reality to build connected games. It is behind the titles such as When in Rome and Beasts of Balance. The acquisition will see the London-based gaming studio merge with Niantic’s London-based studio.
For the past five years, Sensible Object has been building unique tabletop games that merge physical with the digital experiences. The financial details of this acquisition have not been disclosed.
With the acquisition, Sensible Object founder and CEO Alex Fleetwood will now head Niantic’s new London studio. 12 members of the startup’s staff have also been roped in to the new studio.
Niantic’s press release on the acquisition states that Sensible Object will be providing support for its current slate titles during the transition period. After the transition is complete, the team will redirect its efforts to building new real-world augmented reality experiences, a task which forms the core work done at the Niantic London studio.
Niantic has been a pioneer in the development of world-scale augmented reality games. Its most spectacular success was the Pokemon Go game which took the world by storm and still remains one of the most popular mobile AR games.
Through the acquisition, Niantic aims to expand its real-world AR footprint to wide frontiers. Sensible Object’s Founder Alex Fleetwood is now new in this terrain. His first games studio was Hide&Seek which focused on developing mobile outdoor experiences for various clients including PlayStation and Tate Modern. With the advent of Internet of Things (IoT) from 2014 onwards, Fleetwood pivoted towards creating experiences that merged physical and digital games and from this, Sensible Object was born.
The first game that rolled out from the studio was a connected board game known as Beasts of Balance. The game raised more than £165,000 from Kickstarter.
Niantic is currently one of the top leaders in consumer AR and its footprint is about to expand manifold. Currently, the company is working on launching a new title, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, a game in which players will play as wizards and learn different types of spells and also explore various neighborhoods where they can discover and take on the legendary beasts in the Harry Potter series.
The advent of 5G and its adoption over the next few years will have huge repercussions on the trajectory and uptake of immersive technologies due to the low latency and higher data transfer rates.
So far, not much has been revealed about the games that the Niantic London studio will be working on but the platform will go through an experimentation and innovation phase.
The potential advances that could be realized with the platform will also factor in the various advances in computer vision, machine learning and augmented reality in the coming years. There is bound to be some breakthroughs and gradual advances and this will have a bearing on the kinds of games that Niantic will be developing and it could widen the possibility of what will be realizable. Technological advancements will have moved quite ahead by the time Niantic will be launching a game in 2021.