To be saying that Niantic's first year as a fully-independent company was special would be hugely underselling it. In October 2015, the firm separated itself from tech giant Google, where it had been running as one of the company's start-ups. The following July 2017, Niantic officially released Pokémon GO. The title has brought the much-loved Pokémon franchise to mobile devices, which is owned by most people these days. Niantic purposely made it free-to-play for everyone to be able to play it.
Pokémon GO's impact
Pokémon GO went on to having roughly 44 million active users at its very peak, which helped propel Nintendo shares to soar high - before the company told shareholders it wasn't responsible for the game. Pokémon GO dominated headlines and pop culture and, for a brief period, altered how society functioned. The game's effects were felt more than the game itself. The game helped UK sales for Nintendo's 3DS console rising by over 200% in its very first week.
Niantic was expecting Pokémon GO would be this massive
"We had some really good early predictions for the game's demand, or at least the appeal, of the game when we did announce it in September 2015 in Tokyo with our CEO John Hanke, Mr. Ishihara from The Pokémon Company, Miyamoto-san from Nintendo and Masuda-san from Game Freak," Niantic CMO Mike Quigley said.
More from Quigley
"We saw the initial reactions, which was pretty positive. Along with that, we also released the concept trailer. The fan reaction to that, from both the active Pokémon player, the lapsed Pokémon fan, the Ingress players and broader gamers at large was really good, to say the least, so that was one early initial sign that we thought we might have something special in store here. More importantly, we started to do our field test, a closed beta in classic gaming terms, in March in Japan, so we started getting some much-needed feedback there from a subset of our community in Japan. We rolled the game out to New Zealand and Australia in April. It wasn't just the classic bug fixes, but also feedback on the core game loops," Quigley continued.
Pokémon GO and Ingress
Apart from being a massive deal for Niantic and the Pokémon Company, Pokémon GO was also the first demonstration of augmented reality to the general public. The title was also kept afloat by the success of Niantic's previous title, Ingress, which launched roughly four years ago and has been installed 20 million times.
Nintendo looking to go BIG
Fast forward to now, there have been a lot of polishes and things that Nintendo have done, and some new features that were introduced like the Daily Bonus that hopefully will continue over time to improve the game. The combination of that early feedback, along with the field test, made the company think that the response to Pokémon Go could be pretty big, and it was truly massive. Now, with the success of their Pokémon mobile game, Nintendo is looking to surpass even bigger companies like Sony and Microsoft.