January 30, 2023
Niantic, the company responsible for creating Pokémon GO, one of the fastest-growing games in history, is shifting its attention to the sports world. In collaboration with the National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association, Niantic launched NBA All-World in January 2023.
In NBA All-World, players explore their surrounding area to recruit current NBA stars by challenging them to one-on-one matches. Like Pokémon GO, players’ movement is tracked on a map of their surroundings and augmented reality (“AR”) locations let players explore and collect in-game merchandise to customize their players. Exploring requires physically walking to a place and using AR to navigate menus. Niantic has charted over 100,000 basketball courts to feature in NBA All-World.
Glenn Chin, the head of global marketing at Ninatic, is focused on equipping NBA All-World with a robust merchandising component. The idea is to allow players to search for “drops” from brands like Supreme, Nike and Adidas. Chin wants to replicate the basketball fan frenzy around collectibles.
Niantic’s $150 million valuation in 2016 was increased significantly due to the success of Pokémon GO. In 2021, Niantic’s valuation increased to $9 billion, and Pokémon GO has seen consecutive years of billion dollar revenue in 2020 and 2021. With players like Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole being featured, Niantic’s first officially licensed sports title hopes to have similar success.