Niantic's mission is to bring people together in a gaming community, and the company sees it Pokémon Go Fest 2020 as critical as never before of how American society is tearing apart. But this time the event will be virtual.
The virtual event is another sign that Niantic is trying to redesign its entire business to cope with the new realities of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The whole idea is to get people to exercise by going outside. Instead of bringing thousands of people together in a park this year, the company hopes to revive the spirit of the Pokémon Go Fest in a virtual event. Players from around the world can take part in the event virtually from July 25th to 26th from 10am to 8pm. (Local times).
CEO John Hanke said in a briefing that the company wanted to support players during the coronavirus lockout. But it won't be easy in the midst of the pandemic, as large gatherings are prohibited in many countries.
"We want to bring the fun and we want to create a safe adventure for people like we did year after year last year," said Hanke. "The challenge this year is to bring so much fun, and especially the real sense of community, to an event where coaches can experience it anywhere."
Black lives count
Hanke also said the company supports the Black Lives Matter cause and wants to create an equal society and a driving force for the users and the communities in which they live.
"At Niantic, it has been a cornerstone of our mission to bring people together to form bonds that literally build community," said Hanke. “And this community is diverse because those of you who have attended our events in the past have likely seen our games serve as a common touchstone and unite a rainbow of layers of different races across gender and socio-economic boundaries. At the moment we see how our country's fabric is stretched beyond the breaking point. This type of unifying force has never felt needed. "
He added: "We are experiencing an unprecedented movement that opposes systemic racism, which limits opportunities and oppresses billions of people around the world. And we face this heightened challenge, in addition to the physical and mental strain of our struggle against COVID-19. While our company was founded with the idea of being a force for the good for our users and for the communities in which they live, it is clear that the challenge we now face as a society is still more requires creating a better and more equal society and rebuilding ours. The shattered economy will take the lead from both the public and private sectors and, without fail, will do long-term commitment and a lot of work to contribute to these efforts.
Niantic donates $ 5 million in proceeds to fund projects for Black Augmented Reality developers and for nonprofits that focus on rebuilding local communities.
"We felt that the biggest impact we could have was to use our scale to speed up the work of the black creators," said Hanke. "We are providing half of this fund for projects by black developers who can live on the Niantic platform with the aim of highlighting characters, stories and perspectives that confirm the life and experiences of the black community." The other half of this goes to nonprofits in the United States that help communities. "
Pokémon Go players have walked more than 17.3 billion miles and visited over 290 billion locations while playing, Niantic claims.
Niantic's live events have brought together 2.7 million players at Pokémon Go events around the world. Since the start of game mode in January, a billion games have been played between players (coaches) in the Pokémon Go Battle League (where players don't have to be close to duel).
More than 30 million remote raids were completed by players in the first month of their availability, with more than 70% of these remote raids allowing someone to participate personally.
Pokémon Go's social gifting program exchanged 20 billion gifts. Gift exchanges have increased 11% in the past three months, Matt Slemon, Pokémon Go's senior product manager, said in a briefing. During the pandemic, Niantic added indoor-friendly activities to the game.
Pokémon Go Fest 2020
In the past, Pokémon Go Fest physical events sold out quickly, and thousands of people attended physical events in Chicago in 2018 and 2019. This year, players around the world can buy tickets in the in-app shop for $ 15 (plus taxes and local fees) for the weekend celebration, said Michael Sterenka, Niantic's marketing director, in a briefing.
During the event, players can enjoy a new story and adventure that includes the Pokémon Go app, as well as Pokémon's social channels and news hub. In Pokémon Go, players can experience a new gaming experience with rotating virtual living spaces that changes every hour. Players can discover more than 75 unique Pokémon over the weekend.
"We know that Niantic will play a minor role in the recovery, but we want to do everything we can to push things in a positive direction," said Hanke.
To help people connect with each other while they are away, Niantic is introducing a new feature called Niantic Social, first available at Pokémon Go, which serves as a central place to see which of your friends are online and playing . You can use it to see how many miles your friends ran while playing.
The company will also open a Pokémon Go Fest Virtual Team Lounge. The lounge offers players the opportunity to socialize, take part in activities and giveaways, gain insight into the lives of players from all over the world, chat with Niantic developers, and get the latest information about the event.
"I'm very excited about the new digital hub," said Hanke. "It's basically a digital version of the real lounges that formed the basis of our live events."
Another new element of Pokémon Go Fest 2020 is the new free Print at Home Kit, which fans can use to prepare for a range of printable Pokémon Go Fest activities and decorations to celebrate.
Niantic is also launching the Niantic Local Business Recovery Initiative, which gives the Pokémon Go community the opportunity to name their preferred local and small businesses for free for one year among the 1,000 store fronts integrated into Pokémon Go.
Niantic is looking for nominations for local businesses starting in the U.S., Japan, the UK, Canada and Mexico, said Yennie Solheim, senior civil and social impact manager at Niantic, in a briefing.
Once companies are ready to open up in any region, they can use Niantic's in-game location tools to encourage people to safely explore the area. You can learn more about the program and how to submit your preferred local business through the program Initiative website. Nominations close on July 31.
Hanke said the company continues to invest in Pokémon Go, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Ingress to get people to exercise in our new world. In the meantime, Hanke said that in addition to continuing to invest in Pokémon Go, Niantic has a multi-year product roadmap with more than 10 titles in development that is made up of games and other forms of AR experience. Two titles are to be published each year.
"We are expanding the concept of a Niantic game in a number of ways, so stay tuned for more information on the topic," said Hanke. "In terms of the platform, we're continuing to accelerate our work on Advanced AR as part of the real Niantic platform."
Niantic continues to develop advanced ARs accelerated by the acquisition of 6D.ai. This plays an important role in creating and maintaining an updated 3D map of the real world. In addition, Reality Blending was recently launched in Pokémon Go so players can interact with Pokémon. The new Project Wayfarer program offers the player community the opportunity to expand the game board of the world with interesting locations in their own neighborhoods, cities and communities.
Regarding Niantic's workforce, Hanke said the company has 33% women in the company with the goal of reaching 50%. Underrepresented minorities make up 13% of the company with the goal of reaching 30%.