In the midst of outlining plans to release Pokémon Go in China and debut its new Harry Potter game during the back half of 2018, Niantic CEO John Hanke turned to the dark arts by taking a swipe at the company's AR gaming competition.
During an interview with The Financial Times (subscription required), Hanke first explained how the duality of the magical and non-magical (aka muggle) worlds align with Niantic's location-based AR approach to gaming before taking a verbal backhand to another franchise with AR aspirations.
"It would be much harder to bring a convincing Star Wars game into AR in any way that is not just a gimmick," said Hanke.
Although he doesn't directly mention the title, it would appear that Hanke is referring to Star Wars: Jedi Challenges, the AR game released during the recent holiday shopping season. The game employs a smartphone-powered headset, a lightsaber controller, and tracking beacon to enable hologram-based gameplay.
The comment is even more curious considering Star Wars has made its way into mobile AR experiences via Google (Niantic's former parent company), Apple, Snapchat, Facebook, Nissan, and the official Star Wars app.
Hanke also disclosed the company's plans to release its popular Pokémon Go game in China. The move was made possible through a partnership with Chinese gaming company NetEase, one of the investors involved in the $200 million funding round that Niantic closed last year.
"We absolutely intend to bring our existing games into China," said Hanke. "Beyond that, there are opportunities to build games in China, both for China and for the world."
The funding round, along the influx of cash from the success of Pokémon Go, means that the company now has the resources and stability to operate as an established gaming company rather than as an inexperienced startup. The company can also now invest in its technology platform and acquire companies like Evertoon.
With the expansion into a new market for its cash cow (or, cash Miltank), the launch of a nearly-assured second smash hit, and the previously-announced revamp of Ingress, those resources will come in handy.
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