The creators of “Pokemon Go” launch a game about the NBA that bets on the metaverse

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Paris (AFP) – The American video game company Niantic, developer of the successful “Pokemon Go”, is preparing the launch for mobile phones of a basketball game in collaboration with the NBA, in which it will try to make the possibilities of the metaverse accessible to everyone.

The American Niantic, created in 2010 -initially as a subsidiary of Google-, wants to create an experience in which movements in the real world are mixed with elements of virtual reality.

He wants to bring to the world of basketball an experience similar to that offered in 2016 with “Pokemon Go”, in which players could hunt these charismatic creatures that, through their mobile screen, they saw in their living room or in a park.

For this, it will not be necessary to have an expensive virtual reality helmet, with the smartphone screen it will be enough.

The phone is the “perfect” tool for realizing a “metaverse in the real world” that is accessible and has a social dimension, John Hanke, Niantic’s president and CEO, told AFP.

“It’s important that we encourage social interactions in the real world, like going outside, going to a restaurant or meeting friends. Putting on a VR (virtual reality headset) and playing alone seems very lonely and scary to me. I trust that humanity does not go in this direction,” he adds.

In “NBA All-World”, each player, with his virtual character, will have to walk down the street and there he will meet virtual basketball players, who will be NBA stars like Lebron James or the characters of other users. And they will play each other in one-on-one duels or in three-point contests.

Bet on 5G

Niantic’s economic model is based on microtransactions, an increasingly widespread practice in the video game industry.

“NBA All-World” will be free, but users will be able to pay to acquire virtual objects that will allow them to advance faster in the game or customize their basketball player with shoes from brands such as Adidas or Puma, sponsors of the title.

In addition to the pull of being a game about the NBA, one of the most followed sports competitions in the world, Hanke is confident that “the success of ‘Pokemon Go’ will undoubtedly help us” to attract brands “to work” with us. .

After its release in July 2016, “Pokemon Go” quickly became a global phenomenon, generating an average revenue of $1 billion annually, according to Sensor Tower estimates.

But since then Niantic was unable to repeat a similar success with other games that reproduced the same formula in other universes, such as Harry Potter.

That title was a commercial failure and was no longer available in January 2022 due to a lack of players.

In addition, Niantic announced in April last year the cancellation of four projects and an 8% reduction in its workforce, due to the “economic turmoil” affecting the technology sector worldwide.

The company is confident, however, of taking flight thanks to the development of 5G and has multiplied collaboration agreements with telecommunications operators, such as the American Verizon.

“5G will strengthen the game in the public space, by facilitating the arrival of content on the phone with better graphics,” says Hanke, who praises the “technical advantages” of these new mobile phone networks.

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