Niantic Beyond Reality
Black Developers Initiative
Niantic’s Black Developers Initiative is a program established to support, mentor and finance Black game development teams for the purpose of building real-world AR games. Our intention is to empower Black game/AR developers and provide access, resources and support so they can build amazing game experiences that inspire people to explore the world together.

If selected, teams will be provided with five months of development funding, executive mentorship, and development support from leaders at Niantic to bring a playable prototype to fruition. Selected teams will also gain the opportunity to join an established community of Niantic Early Explorers–Game Developers and Program Alumni; this network will extend beyond the duration of the program. At the end of the five month program, development teams will have created a playable prototype and a pitch deck for a real-world augmented reality game.
Featured Developer

Meet W!CKED SAiNTS, the first of many teams joining the Niantic Black Developers Initiative. Over the next several months, they’ll be receiving sponsorship, mentoring and support to build a playable prototype for their game, World Reborn, on the Niantic Platform.

Who Should Apply?
We are looking for teams that already have established legal entities (e.g. LLC, Inc., etc.) and who have experience shipping mobile games and working together. If you have any questions regarding this or the following criteria please contact us.

Teams must satisfy the following Team Criteria and must consist of at least three people where at least one person is full-time and the team has plans for bringing more people on (as contractors or otherwise). Developers must also have Unity experience, ideally having shipped their most recent project using Unity.

Team Criteria (must be at least one of the following):
  • Black team member(s) have a direct line to the profits of the game.
  • The company/studio is at least 51 percent Black-owned operated and controlled as based on the NMSDC requirements defined here under “Certification Criteria” used by the Small Business Administration.
    • Eligibility is established via a combination of screenings, interviews, and site visits (post-covid). Ownership, in the case of a publicly-owned business, means that at least 51 percent of the stock is owned by one or more Black members.
  • Black people driving game vision via a leadership position. Leadership is defined as:
    • Founder
    • Creative Director/Lead Designer
    • Technical Director/Lead Programmer
    • Art Director/Lead Artist
    • Producer
  • The studio team is at least 50 percent Black.

Developers worldwide are able to participate, however, at this time we are only able to support candidates that are able to work and communicate with Niantic in English.

We are defining Black using the definition provided by the US Census. If there are any questions around eligibility based on this, please contact us.

Apply Now

To confirm your interest in the Spring 2021 cohort of the Niantic Beyond Reality: Black Developers Initiative, please complete the following form no later than Sunday, March 14th, 2021 11:59 PM PT. Until then, if you run into any issues with this form, you can reach us at bdi@nianticlabs.com. Applications submitted after the date mentioned above may be considered for a future cohort of the Niantic Beyond Reality: Black Developers Initiative.

Before you get started

The following application will require detailed information about your team and previous experience. We suggest that you use a separate document to capture your responses prior to submitting your final response. The categories of information requested include:

  • Basic contact information
  • Company and team details (bios, links, skills, ability to scale, experience with Unity, mobile apps, and geolocation apps)
Page 1 of 4

First, tell us who you are and how to best contact you

Page 2 of 4

We’d like to know a bit about your team

City, State/Province

Describe what your company/studio does.

If available, provide links or handles for each platform.

If available, please also provide a link to each key team member's professional social media profiles (ex. LinkedIn) in each bio.

Size, skill breakdown, etc.

Network, relationships with vendors, etc.

Page 3 of 4

You’re almost done! Please confirm your details and submit.

If your team seems like a fit for the Beyond Reality: Black Developers Initiative, we'll invite you to submit a game pitch. Either way, we'll be in touch within a few weeks. We look forward to seeing what amazing projects you have underway, and how we can empower you and your team!

A note from our Legal team: You acknowledge that Niantic may now or in the future independently develop or purchase products or services related to or similar to the projects you describe in this RFI. You recognize that Niantic's employees or contractors may retain in their unaided memories information in your RFI ("Residuals"). Niantic may use Residuals for any purpose, including use in Niantic products and services.

Page 4 of 4

Submission successful!

Thanks for applying to the Beyond Reality: Black Developers Initiative.

What happens after you apply?

The following is a breakdown of the processes involved in the program and should give applicants a clear understanding of what may come next. If you have any questions regarding this material please contact us.

Submission Review
  • Mar. 24 - Acception or rejection for Request for Proposal
  • NDA sent to accepted developers

Request for Proposal (Pitches)
  • Developer Briefing
    • Developers sign NDA and are briefed on the Niantic Real World Platform
  • Developer Proposal/Pitch Generation
    • 4-5 weeks to develop a pitch or high level concept if one does not already exist.
    • During the pitch development period office hours will be provided by the Program Manager for any developer that chooses to opt in.
  • Pitch Review
    • Please see the “How are pitches evaluated?” FAQ for more information on the evaluation process.
  • Technical and Production Vetting
    • Teams are interviewed to ensure they are organized and set up appropriately for the project that has been pitched.
    • Provide support to any areas that have been identified as potential risks.
  • Accept / Reject Pitches
    • Rejected pitches will receive detailed notes on why the project was not selected to better prepare them to try again, take their pitch elsewhere, or apply the knowledge gained to a new project.
    • Accepted pitches move on toward a prototype development deal.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • + - Why do we believe this program should exist?
    The Game/Tech Industry lacks opportunity and access for Black creators. We at Niantic want to set the stage to empower Black game/AR developers and provide access, resources and support so they can build amazing game experiences that inspire people to explore the world together. Niantic explorers are an incredibly diverse group and we believe that we need talented developers that reflect the diverse explorers to add their creativity and experience to build games that foster entertainment and connection.
  • + - How are we defining Black?
    We are using the definition provided by the US Census. If there are any questions around eligibility based on this, please contact us.
  • + - What type of concepts are we looking for?
    Niantic is always looking for the next innovative real world game that encourages players to explore the world, get exercise, and connect to one another. Games must have an AR or geolocation component.
  • + - What happens after you apply?

    The following is a breakdown of the processes involved in the program and should give applicants a clear understanding of what may come next. If you have any questions regarding this material please contact us.

    Submission Review
    • Acception or Rejection for Briefing

    Request for Proposal (Pitches)
    • Developer Briefing
      • Developers sign NDA and are briefed on the Niantic Real World Platform
    • Developer Proposal/Pitch Generation
      • 4-5 weeks to develop a pitch or high level concept if one does not already exist.
      • During the pitch development period office hours will be provided by the Program Manager for any developer that chooses to opt in.
    • Pitch Review
      • Please see the “How are pitches evaluated?” FAQ for more information on the evaluation process.
    • Technical and Production Vetting
      • Teams are interviewed to ensure they are organized and set up appropriately for the project that has been pitched.
      • Provide support to any areas that have been identified as potential risks.
    • Accept / Reject Pitches
      • Rejected pitches will receive detailed notes on why the project was not selected to better prepare them to try again, take their pitch elsewhere, or apply the knowledge gained to a new project.
      • Accepted pitches move on toward a prototype development deal.

    Prototype Development
    • Developer Statement of Work / Inbound Services Agreement review and acceptance
    • Mentorship Kick-off
      • Teams are connected with Executive Leadership coaches.
      • Niantic mentors will also provide additional support.
      • Mentors are expected to meet with their developer mentees on a regular or semi-regular basis.
    • Added to Community Communications Channels
      • New entrants introduced to the network of program alumni.
    • Developer Kick-off
    • Implementation and Development Phase (15-18 Weeks)

    Post Development
    • Material support from program ends, however, community support continues
    • Prototype submitted to Greenlight Committee
      • Typically, Greenlight Committee evaluation will take up to three months, during which time teams are no longer receiving funds from Niantic.
    • Accepted/Rejected
      • Games that were passed on can take their pitch and prototype to find other sources of funding in order to rebuild their projects on alternative platforms.
  • + - How are pitches evaluated?

    Though many factors will be considered pitches will be examined using the following four categories as an initial rubric:

    Overall Appeal - How well does Niantic think this experience will land with players? Does Niantic feel like this pitch is a good idea, as well as backed by a team that seems like they could get it done? Games evolve and change over the course of development, so does Niantic think this team has the right stuff to get to a great experience in the end?

    Portfolio Fit - Do we see this being a Niantic game? Does it align to Niantic’s company values, and could stand next to Ingress, Pokémon GO, or Harry Potter: Wizards Unite?

    Achievability - Does it seem like your team will be able execute on the prototype you have planned? Does that prototype have a good chance of leading to a game that Niantic could develop and publish? Do the team members have the right skills to execute on your idea? Will you be able to run a game with live operations? Does your plan pass a sniff test?

    X-Factor - Is there something about this concept or team that strikes Niantic as so cool, it should overwrite concerns in the above sections?

    Other things that will help your pitch and/or team to stand out:
    • Clear and strong definitions of core goals of the experience.
    • Teams that have experience in developing on platforms that were in development at the same time as the game.
    • Teams that have experience in Live Operations - digital or analogue.
    • Teams that have demonstrated experience in developing original games from concept through launch.
    • Clear, reasonable path to execution.
  • + - What type of support will the program offer?
    Material Support - Funding for proposed prototypes of selected teams.

    Niantic Mentorship - Members of the Niantic team will be made available to mentor individual members of selected development teams according to their area of expertise.

    Platform Technical Support - Advice and support of engineering teams to help selected developers work with the Niantic API. In addition, access to documentation and sample code will be provided.

    Executive Leadership Coaches - Source and match executive leadership coaches for the leadership team of selected developers.

    Promotional Support - Niantic will promote the selected developers and their game prototypes on their official owned & operated channels.

    Project Feedback - Niantic will provide written feedback to the developers through every stage of the process. This will allow for developers to appropriately access any issues or weaknesses that their project may have so they may address them and go on to future success beyond this program.

    Alumni Network - Though we are just getting started now we aim to to build a support network of current and in the future prior developers that have gone through the program.

    Funding Advice - Recommendations on how developers can secure funding to ship a finished game if the prototype does not receive full funding from the Niantic Beyond Reality publishing structure.
  • + - What if I have other questions about the program?