Blog > Adapting to the 'New Normal': Staying Connected to the Real-World Through Augmented Reality
August 3, 2020
Adapting to the 'New Normal': Staying Connected to the Real-World Through Augmented Reality


COVID-19 has flipped the script on humanity - how we function, maintain relationships and find normalcy amid the uncertainty. The pandemic has created a ripple effect of loss, confusion and isolation for many people. During this time of need, our community found positivity by coming together on the Niantic Real World Platform to embrace our core values of social, exercise and explore. Players have stayed connected during a walk in their local neighborhood and by playing as a family right in their backyard. Our players’ support of the games, and each other, demonstrates the staying power of mobile gaming and the benefits for everyday life.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to fostering social connection. At the onset of the pandemic, we understood that our community needed new ways to engage safely. In response, we adapted by leaning into our advanced AR platform to enable more ways to play and interact within the COVID context. We are proud of how quickly and skillfully our world-class engineers and product teams responded to enable connectivity to the real-world.

Over the past several months, the resiliency of our player base has been increasingly apparent. This is a testament to the incredible advantage of using our cloud based platform to provide entertaining experiences. Our games, Pokémon GO, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, Ingress and upcoming titles like CATAN - World Explorers, become the glue that binds together people of all backgrounds and cultures and serves as a virtual hangout to share passions, including and beyond the games itself.

Blending the virtual and physical experiences, we endeavor to encourage long-lasting player friendships “in real life”. As a byproduct, we are able to build and retain a sustainable, growing user base. Since the launch of Pokémon GO four years ago, we are seeing record levels of consumer adoption. The average daily time spent playing Pokémon GO, the app store’s perennially top-rated game, is 74 minutes, which surpasses engagement levels of our peers and the most popular social networking and entertainment apps. It takes considerable time and strategic effort to generate consumer trust in the product, and ultimately, earn their time and commitment.

At a Glance: Adaptation Plays

Our live events are a manifestation of our vision. Traditionally, Pokémon GO Fest (“GO Fest”) is celebrated like Niantic’s Super Bowl - the community looks forward to this special event of playing in-person with friends. Since our inaugural event in 2017, more than 2.7 million Trainers from our player community have participated in Pokémon GO Fest events around the world.

Our goal has always been to create joyful, enriching experiences. To stay true to our core values in a new environment, we took a creative reset to reimagine this signature event as a truly first-of-its-kind virtual gaming experience which resulted in all-time high levels of player activity. Millions of ticketed players from 124 different countries and regions participated.

As a result of the success of Pokémon GO Fest, we will be increasing our donation two-fold to $10 million USD in support of the Black community and U.S. nonprofit organizations that are helping local communities rebuild. We intend to shine a light on characters, stories, and points of view that validate the lives and experiences of the Black community. Additionally, we have partnered with TechRow, a Harlem, NYC based platform uniquely positioned for in-person and remote learning to underprivileged children. Our collective goal is to provide Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality educational opportunities for promising youth residing in underserved communities.

Adapting for Today, Advancing Tomorrow

Now, our games are more accessible to people than ever before.

To further advance real-world adventures, we’re accelerating new game development, partnerships and acquisitions. We have new games on the horizon like CATAN - World Explorers, inspired by the classic board game loved by tens of millions of people around the world. We’ve also forged a multifaceted partnership with Punchdrunk, the pioneers of immersive theatre and creators of Sleep No More. Further, with the acquisition of, we’re building a dynamic, 3D map of the world so we can enable new kinds of planet-scale AR experiences.

We will continue to focus on bringing people together through games and Augmented Reality to harness the power of our community. We will prioritize new technology that increases human connection, brings joy, and supports well-being. We are in this together and we will emerge stronger together.

–Jeff Shouger, SVP of Finance, Niantic

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