Pokémon GO developer Niantic has raised $200 million in its latest funding round.
The company's Series B financing comes just weeks after it announced plans to release a new title called Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which like the hit augmented reality title Pokémon GO, will feature AR elements so fans of the wizarding world can experience Harry Potter in the real world.
Niantic Just Raised A Ton Of Money
Niantic was a fairly unknown developer until Pokémon GO received riotous praise and fanfare, pushing millions of players to go outside and catch Pokémon using their smartphones. Before that, it was known for Ingress, a multiplayer Sci-fi spy game.
Niantic's Series B round is more successful than its Series A funding, which only yielded $30 million from an investor group including Alsop Louie Partners, Google, Nintendo, The Pokémon Company, Cyan and Scott Banister, and more.
Spark Capital led the latest funding round, with Founders Fund, Meritech, Javelin Venture Capital, You & Mr. Jones, and NetEase, Inc. in participation, according to Niantic. Also, Spark partner Megan Quinn is joining the board of Niantic as part of the new financing deal.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, Niantic CEO John Hanke said the funding would enable strategic opportunities for the developer. Hanke is most certainly referring to the upcoming Harry Potter game, which is scheduled to be released sometime next year.
The Rise Of Augmented Reality
Executives from companies such as Facebook and Apple have credited Niantic for making the first game to ever popularize AR-based experiences, a fascinating technology many believe is the next big thing.
Pokémon GO became the fastest mobile game to ever reach $1 billion in revenue earlier this year, a success for Niantic, The Pokémon Company, and AR in general. The game spent 74 consecutive days as the top-grossing app on the App Store last year. Now, the challenge for Niantic is to prove the success of Pokémon GO wasn't just a fluke.
Since the game's release, few other AR-based games have been popular, perhaps even none. Maybe there's still a code developers need to crack with regard to AR, perhaps there's something about the current state of AR that still makes it an inefficient gaming experience for some people. One thing is for sure, though: brand matters. Pokémon GO was a hit because, well — it had "Pokémon" in it. Harry Potter is expected to be a success because of similar reasons.
Whether Niantic can push AR as the next innovation in gaming remains to be seen, but at least it now has plenty of money to aid its experiments.