Blog
November 8, 2019
Infusing STEM & STEAM Into Our Programs

Niantic

At Niantic, we see education as one of the key components to the success of communities around the world. Not only is it pertinent that science, technology, engineering, art, and math are embraced in everyday learning, but providing access to these fields to everyone is key to moving educational standards forward.

Programs such as our educational curriculum work with TechRow in New York and mentorship support with Tech in the Tenderloin in San Francisco help bolster our core beliefs. Local office engagement programs provide our employees with ways to give back to the community, like our partnership with Young Women Empowered in Bellevue, WA. More so, programs like Y-WE focus specifically on empowering girls to pursue careers in the STEAM space by taking down barriers to entry and providing the hands-on skills they need to succeed.

Our game locations are also, as our players avidly know, places of culture and presence. Most of the game locations around the world are things like art sculptures, museums, and murals. Murals celebrate scientists like Ada Lovelace, museums span from hyper-local historic museums to the Louvre in Paris, and art sculptures honor legends like Martin Luther King Jr. All of these game locations have one thing in common - they help tell the stories of the cultures and communities around us, educating past and current generations.

If you’re looking to get more involved, help us raise support on DonorsChoose.org for STEM related courses, hop over to our social impact page to learn more about what you can do, or read more about our educational endeavours here.


—Yennie Solheim, Social Impact

November 6, 2019
Expanding the Gameboard of the World with Small Businesses

It’s our vision to create a gameboard that embraces meaningful and interesting locations and ultimately feels more relevant for our players wherever they are in the world. We’re developing technologies that expand our ability to map and understand the world around you which are essential in creating a better and more immersive experience whether you’re playing in a city or in a rural area. High level players can even submit new game locations with photos, titles and additional information they want in their game through the Wayfarer program, creating more ways for players to build out their own gameboard.

The world is also made up of businesses that are a core part of everyday life. On a regular Saturday, for many of us, going out in the world more often than not means visiting businesses -- from running errands at stores to visiting restaurants and other venues to socialize. As we look to expand the gameboard to be even more relevant to our players’ daily lives, these businesses, big and small, will play an integral role in blending the real and digital worlds together to bring magic and fun to more everyday moments - even running errands.

Today we’re announcing a Beta program for qualifying small and medium businesses with brick and mortar stores to easily activate sponsored locations. While we’ve worked with large nationwide businesses such as McDonalds and 7-Eleven in Japan, AT&T in the US and many more to create sponsored locations, this is the first time mom and pop shops can easily and quickly become a part of Niantic’s products.

We are always transparent and open to our players regarding sponsored locations and feel they mutually benefit our players and these businesses. Players have more locations where they are welcomed to play with their friends and access to special experiences sponsored by businesses, and businesses can attract more awareness and foot traffic while creating new layers of fun engagement at their real world locations. In addition, this may also create a potential new revenue stream for developers building experiences on the Niantic Real World Platform, without the interruptive nature of traditional advertising.

We do want to take a moment and remind everyone that, by default, sponsored locations are not visible to children without explicit parental permission. For more information on how we obtain parental consent and how we maintain our players’ privacy please visit our privacy policy here.

Starting today, small and medium sized businesses in the US can apply to join our Sponsored Locations Early Access Beta program, before we begin to launch in December, by visiting: www.nianticlabs.com/sponsoredlocations

We’re looking forward to building the gameboard together with our players and businesses around the world.


—Carla Li, Product Lead for Sponsorships

November 6, 2019
Creating the Future of AR Experiences on the Niantic Real World Platform

Augmented Reality is going to reshape the entertainment experiences of tomorrow, altering how we engage with the digital and real worlds. At Niantic, we’re building towards this immersive future by transforming how people interact with the world, and each other.

We view AR as a sea of opportunity and we can’t navigate these waters alone. We know developers are key to creating the new kinds of experiences that get people to explore and connect with the real world. Collaborating hand-in-hand with WB Games to create Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was just the first step in opening up the Niantic Real World Platform to more creative development minds.

Niantic Creator Program and the Niantic Beyond Reality Fund
Working with talented developers to help them achieve their visions in location-based experiences and augmented reality is a key purpose behind developing the Niantic Real World Platform, so early next year, we're going to launch the Niantic Creator Program.

We're inviting all developers with a passion for real-world experiences to apply to collaborate directly with us, starting today at www.niantic.dev

By joining the program, creators can expect access to Niantic opportunities, the first of which will be the Niantic Beyond Reality Fund. This new fund is designed to bring inspiring, innovative real-world AR projects to life - from early prototypes to complete commercial experiences. The Beyond Reality Fund will give creators the opportunity to pitch their ideas directly to Niantic to secure funding and kick-start their creations.

Another opportunity will be gaining access to the Niantic Real World Platform augmented reality development kit. This proprietary toolset is created from all of the knowledge and experience Niantic has acquired building real world games like Pokémon GO and Harry: Potter Wizards Unite.

Finally, participants will be notified of opportunities to learn from the incredible developers here at Niantic on how to best leverage these tools, and gain insights from our learnings in building and shipping location-based and AR experiences worldwide.

Aspiring developers can apply for the Niantic Creator Program here.

Niantic Beyond Reality Contest
The Niantic Creator Program is a direct extension from this year’s Niantic Beyond Reality Contest. Through the contest, we chose ten developers to work with - we provided funding, as well as access to the tools and services we use to operate Niantic’s own products. This was the first time external teams were given the keys to the Niantic Real World Platform, to create, experiment and produce their projects. We brought them to our HQ in San Francisco for a weeklong event to both onboard them and have them learn directly from the folks that have built and continue to work on these tools every day.

In just 4 months, all 10 teams - from seasoned game developers to university students - had created a Niantic powered experience. Last month, these teams came back to San Francisco to show off the creations. Here’s a quick recap:

Of all the amazing projects, JC Soft, a talented family team, won the grand prize with their incredibly inventive game Run to My Heart. It truly exemplified my hopes for this contest. It has a quirky, unique creative vision, and - most importantly - leveraged the various features of the Niantic Real World Platform in new and different ways.

Our runner up teams including Dibs Studio which created Wild SanctuARy and Escality which created CryptOS built some truly innovative and thoughtful AR experiences. You can get a glimpse of these games here:

We also want to take a moment to thank all of the participants in the Beyond Reality Contest including:

  • Bio-Squad K - MechaChicken
  • Cute vs. Chaos - HappyGiant
  • ExplorAR - Team ExplorAR
  • Flint and Steam - Land Lubber Games
  • The Gettysburg Battlefield - HitPoint Studios
  • Kymera - Team TriHeart
  • Novagarde - Ninth Wonder

Among our biggest takeaways from the Beyond Reality Contest was that we really can help developers of all kinds and spark a diversity of AR creations. We are aiming to do even more next year through our Niantic Creator Program.

We’re looking forward to shaping the future of AR together with the many talented developer minds around the world and to create unique experiences the world has never seen before.


—Kellee Santiago, Head of Developer Relations