Augmented reality gaming pioneer and Pokémon GO mastermind Niantic puts the pieces on the game board to prepare developers and gamers for the launch of its AR cloud platform.
Announced in June 2018, the Niantic Real World Platform would allow multiplayer experiences, persistent content, and realistic occlusion for mobile AR apps created by Niantic or other developers.
On Wednesday, the company announced that it would accept applications for its Creator program, which will give first access to the Niantic Real World Platform to participating developers in 2020. The Creator program also offers participants learning opportunities for developing and publishing their apps. .
"We see AR as a sea of opportunity and we cannot go through this alone We know that developers are the key to creating the ne with types of experiences that lead people to explore and connect the real world Working with WB Games to create Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was just the first step in opening up the Niantic Real World Platform to more creative developers, "said Kellee Santiago, head of developer relations at Niantic, in a blog post.
One of the main benefits for participants in the Creator program is the Beyond Reality Fund, which will offer financial investments to the developers of the program who need additional resources to realize their concepts.
The Creator program, along with the Beyond Reality Fund, evolved from the Beyond Reality Developer Contest that Niantic started in December 2018.
JC Soft emerged as the winner of that competition based on the game Run to My Heart, with other participants, including such notable names as HappyGiant and HItPoint Studios.
"One of our biggest takeaways from the Beyond Reality Contest was that we can really help all kinds of developers and cause a variety of AR creations. We aim to do even more through our Niantic Creator program next year, "Santiago said." We look forward to shaping the future of AR together with the many talented developer minds around the world and creating unique experiences that the world has never seen before. "
While these components act as catalyst for the growth of the developer community, Niantic still has some technical work to do on the platform. The company has two other initiatives in the pipeline to generate more real-world locations that serve as focal points for games built on the Real World Platform.
One of these & # 39; s is Niantic Wayfarer, a crowdsourcing program that allows high-level players to identify points of interest for use in Niantic games. In 2018, the program will ask participants to submit photos & other information about the proposed locations.
Wayfarer's brother or sister comes in the form of sponsored locations Early Access Beta, a program that extends availability for sponsored locations from large chains such as Starbucks and McDonalds to small businesses.
"The world also consists of companies that are a core part of everyday life. On a regular Saturday, for many of us, going out in the world means visiting companies – from shopping in stores to visiting restaurants and other locations to to socialize, "said Carla Li, product leader for sponsorship at Niantic, in a blog post. "While we want to expand the gameboard to be even more relevant to the daily lives of our players, these companies, big and small, will play an integral role in bringing the real and digital world together to bring magic together and fun for more everyday moments – even shopping. "
In addition to expanding points of interest for gamers and increasing foot traffic for participating companies, Niantic expects location sponsorship to also open a new stream of revenue for developers. , Niantic will hide sponsored locations from underage players unless parental consent is given.
The program is launched in December, but interested companies can now apply.  While Niantic has already implemented the core technology of the Real World Platform as part of the Ingress Reboot, Pokémon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the company has not yet launched an app with the next generation of platform capabilities .
But it seems that a Niantic app is indeed the first to use these advanced functions. The company is working on turning the Pokémon GO concept into a more shared experience as part of the original Real World announcement of the game's first multiplayer mode, and it is provisionally titled Buddy Adventure.
"The Pokémon GO Buddy Adventure feature will not only let you communicate with your own Pokémon via the AR camera, it also gives Trainers a shared experience of seeing their true friends in real-time interaction with their Buddy Pokemon , "said Diana Hu, director of AR platforms at Niantic. "Buddy Adventure is also platform independent, so whether your friends have an iPhone or Android device, you will still see them when the feature is on. Trainers worldwide can look forward to Buddy Adventure coming to Pokémon GO in the coming months. "
Hu is also the co-founder of Escher Reality. Niantic acquired the company and technology from Hu, a platform for persistent and shared AR, in February 2018. That technology, together with Hu and her team, helped Niantic accelerate the development of the Real World Platform.
With competitive AR cloud 6D .ai already giving developers the opportunity to launch their apps in the wild, Niantic seems to be in the home phase to get its own taste of shared AR experiences into the hands of gamers, by 2020 as a pivotal year for the platform's debut.
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