India is an important market for AR games says maker of Pokemon Go

Niantic Inc., better known for its augmented reality games and apps, is one of the major promoters in connecting the virtual world with the physical world

Niantic Inc., better known for its augmented reality games and apps, is one of the major promoters in connecting the virtual world with the physical world

With plans to incorporate the real world into its technology, Niantic Inc. Lightship, a platform for developers to create their own reality games. The company recently released updates to its popular AR game Pokemon Go. These include a global map refresh and the addition of more Pokemons.

In an exclusive interaction with The HinduPriscilla Campillo, Manager, Emerging Markets & Strategic Partnerships at Niantic, Inc. spoke about the company’s plans for India, the future of AR gaming and the impact of the 5G rollout.

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Edited excerpts from the interview below:

Please tell us about the new games to be launched by Niantic in the coming days. Are there any titles in mind for India?

Priscilla Campillo: When we talk about game launches happening in the coming months, we definitely think of India. Last year we launched Pikmin Bloom which is available in India and we have plans to fully launch games like the NBA All-World which is also an AR game. We also announced Marvel World of Heroes, which is also launching soon, and India will definitely be part of this rollout.

We also have a game called Peridot, an original IP, and more titles are in the pipeline. Next year will be a very big year, not only for Niantic but also for the Indian market.

How big is the AR gaming market in India and is it expanding?

PC: We see India as one of the fastest growing markets for both our existing and upcoming games, as well as our technology, as we believe India will continue to boost our player base using our platform. Indian developers have huge potential to create their own reality games, which is something Niantic offers these days.

Last year we announced our Lightship platform, which is our next step towards a planet-scale augmented reality platform for the current and new generation of developers. It helps developers build augmented reality experiences realistically is available in India and we definitely think it’s a great opportunity for developers too.

Do you see Metaverse-based games as a threat to AR games?

PC: Much of the Metaverse conversation really paints a future where we sit at our desks from our basements, while the real world is chaotic. Niantic sees this very differently, as we envision a future where billions of people can create experiences in the real world. Outside.

We envision a real world metaverse where players or users can interact with layers of the world, making the real world more magical, fun, informative and educational.

So I don’t see Metaverse as a competition, I see this as two very different things that can certainly coexist.

How do you see Niantic competing against online multiplayer games like PUBG, Call of Duty and others?

PC: I certainly don’t see them as competition. They are completely different experiences, games and platforms.

It is a very exciting time for many games, including these titles, and they will be more and more present in our daily lives. But I see that Niantic games are very unique. Our technology is built with the idea that people go out and discover and meet new people in real life.

Since India is a tough market to monetize in terms of subscriptions and in-app purchases, how does Niantic intend to tackle this?

PC: Our first approach is to make our game more available with improvements. We have added 5,000,000 PokeStops, which are points of interest for interacting with our games in India. We have increased Indian consumer engagement. We are also planning to roll out Campfire, a platform integrated into our games that will allow players to easily connect and organize gatherings, raids and local events in their community. The new Pokémons and content are available to Indian players as well as ground activations. We have also worked with local communities and player communities in India to organize monthly community days.

We are also excited to be more inclusive in working on content that is more relevant to Indian players.

A file photo of the Pokemon Go logo | Photo credit: REUTERS

Do you plan to expand the places where you will hold these events in the future?

PC: We understand that India is such a huge country and it is definitely a challenge for us to tap into all the communities at any time. We need to keep investing, of course, adding resources to the local soil, but it’s definitely a plan we need to do to increase these events and increase support for our local communities.

How do you see the rollout of 5G for the AR gaming market and how does Niantics plan to capitalize on this?

PC: Interactive content really has the power to transform enterprises and deliver true consumer experiences that will shape the gaming landscape for years to come. The backbone of this is really 5G and Cloud computing.

Last year we launched a demo called Urban Legends, a multiplayer experience that gives consumers a glimpse into the future with AR and 5G.

We partner with top telcos in the world, in America, Europe and Asia to showcase 5G ultra-low latency and high, high bandwidth capabilities to deliver a very cool experience that is highly immersive and social.

So there is definitely a huge intersection between augmented reality to demonstrate the capabilities of 5G. And I know India is kind of coming into that area and we hope we can bring some of these experiences here.

In the past, AR games have been shown to distract users, leading to accidents. How does Niantic intend to solve these problems in highly populated areas of India?

PC: Niantic has several layers of security reminders built into games, including Pokémon GO, which players see at startup and during gameplay, which they must acknowledge in order to continue. These reminders ask players to be alert and aware of their surroundings and not to enter dangerous areas during gameplay.

We also regularly remind players to follow local health authorities’ guidelines while playing, notify them of local weather warnings, and remind them to be polite to their local community during group play. If the game detects that a player may be driving, the game functionality will be disabled until the player confirms that he is a passenger in the vehicle.

Niantic has come under the scanner due to privacy concerns. How are these resolved?

PC: We take privacy issues very seriously and are fortunate to have a great team trying to address them in a thoughtful way where the user is a priority. We have developed a privacy policy that reflects this. Niantic stores location information only for the time it takes to run the game and plan for in-game resources, for example PokéStops in Pokémon GO. Niantic does not sell user information to third parties.

As with many mobile apps and services, personal information is shared voluntarily when you sign up for our games.

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