With its Lightship platform, Niantic wants to allow other developers to create AR games on a planet scale like Pokémon Go.
Since Mark Zuckerberg unveiled his famous virtual world project, the notion of metavers is still as vague as its exact definition. But no offense to the founder of Facebook, there are already products that have built their success on a vaguely comparable concept; this is particularly the case of the Niantic studio, which wants to take its AR catalog to the next level.
The firm announced that its platform called Lightship was now accessible to developers around the world. She said she was going “open the technological safe developed for its other games”. Its objective: to allow other publishers to build their own “AR applications on a planetary scale”.
By next year, Niantic would also like to integrate Lightship into the reality glasses ecosystem. increased. On paper, it looks a lot like the logical evolution of existing systems; for example, in Pokémon Go, the player can already interact with his environment via the camera of his smartphone. But the screen is only one small window on this virtual world. With real glasses, there is no doubt that Pokémon Go and others would be immensely more immersive, but also more ergonomic.
Niantic, the metaverse before Facebook
The studio first stood out with the excellent Ingress, who shook up the entire video game landscape when it was released in 2012. For the very first time, players were able to taste the thrill of augmented reality. Now all you need is a simple smartphone to make the link between the real world and the virtual world; a metaverse before the hour, in short.
But at this time the concept is innovative and very exciting but technology is not not yet developed. A finding that put off many users; It was not until 2016 that Niantic signed the partnership of a lifetime with Nintendo, and thus gave birth to Pokémon Go. This game based on the same engine as Ingress has benefited from all the experience of the studio. Much more successful than its predecessor, it immediately turned into a a real planetary cardboard box.
In the process, we saw dozens of pale copies blooming determined to surf this wave; we remember for example Mojang, who took it into his head to transpose his legendary Minecraft. But the vast majority have miserably stuck in the carpet, and this video game niche has started to lose speed. Even Niantic paid the price. His last title Harry Potter Wizards Unite had everything to succeed; but despite the experience gained on Go and Ingress and this cult franchise as a working basis, the game ended up making a sacred flop.
Video game 2.0?
Many saw it as the end of a ephemeral fashion phenomenon, a video game niche doomed to disappear. But when you read the Niantic roadmap, one wonders if it is not quite the opposite that seems to be looming. With Pokémon Go in its suitcases, the firm has asimply unrivaled experience and technical background on this land; in fact, one could even consider that Niantic has already produced metavers for years, long before Facebook / Meta entered the dance!
At the end of the day, the philosophy of the Niantic-style metaverse is very different from Zuckerberg’s vision. But the implications could nonetheless be considerable. If the firm succeeds, it could unlock the immense potential that no AR game has ever been able to express in its entirety. And at the same time, redefine the concepts of metaverse and video games. So it will be interesting to see what kind of developer will be interested in Lightship; if the big studios answer the call, the video game landscape could well change radically.