Location-based gaming pioneer Niantic has been preparing its flavor of AR cloud, the Niantic Real World Platform, to bring more realistic and interactive augmented reality experiences to mobile apps. And now the company is looking for a few good developers to help execute its vision on the platform.
On Thursday, the Pokémon GO developer unveiled its Beyond Reality Developer Contest, which will offer a pool of $1 million in prizes to those who present innovative AR gaming and geospatial technology proposals that use the Real World Platform.
"We're seeking applicants that are excited about creating projects that follow core tenets of Niantic: exploration, exercise, and real-world social interaction," said Phil Keslin, co-founder and chief technology officer of Niantic, in a blog post. "We invite you to adventure along with us, and create something that the world has never seen before."
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Contest requirements call for teams of at least five members with experience in Unity and Java Server development. Niantic will evaluate proposals based on the uniqueness of the project as well as the technical background of the team members. Deadline for applications, including supporting materials, game design briefs, and videos, is Feb. 17, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time.
According to the contest rules, Niantic will select 10 finalists and announce them on March 20. Starting with the kick-off event on May 1 in San Francisco, the teams will build their ideas over the course of three months, with the goal of presenting their games at Demo Day, scheduled for Aug. 23 in San Francisco. Niantic will announce the winners on Sept. 6.
To assist the finalists in their endeavors, Niantic will provide a stipend to teams and facilitate travel to the kick-off event and Demo Day. Of course, teams will also receive access to the Real World Platform, but Niantic will also make Niantic engineering teams available for support. Moreover, teams will retain rights to their work.
If you're not familiar with the company's AR cloud endeavor, what Niantic Real World Platform does is enable multiplayer experiences, persistent content, and real-world occlusion via low-latency, high-speed networking.
The company intends to integrate the platform into its existing games, and it has already started doing so with Ingress Prime and the Adventure Sync feature for Pokémon GO. There's also a good chance that Niantic is building the forthcoming Harry Potter: Wizards Unite game on the platform as well.
Nevertheless, starting with the announcement of Real World, Niantic has made it clear that the platform will be open to other developers. Now, via this new contest, Niantic is not only recruiting developers to work with the platform, but also guiding developers toward creating the kind of experiences that it would like to see built on it.
"Our focus is on games, but our definition of games is pretty expansive," said Keslin. "So if you have an idea that bridges gaming and other areas like physical activity, social, travel or shopping, please feel free to submit."
Investors have reportedly doubled down on Niantic with $200 million in funding, largely based on its the revenues generated by its own games, as well as the cut it takes for games developed for other companies, which may or may not include games developed on the Real World platform.
The Niantic Real World Platform is a key component to both buckets and, between investments in the AR hardware industry and various acquisitions, the company has now shown (to the tune of $1 million) that it is willing to put its money where its AR mouth is.