Niantic Launches a US National Parks Initiative

The power of Niantic’s mobile AR games like Pokemon GO is already being leveraged into things like local community outreach, and now that same draw is hoping to bring more players to visit national parks across the United States with a Rivers and Trails promotion.

rivers and trails promotion

The initiative is tied to the 50th anniversary of the National Trails and Wild & Scenic Rivers acts signed by President Lyndon Johnson on October 2nd, 1968. The goal of this campaign is to “collectively visit the thousands of trails across the U.S. and more than 12,000 miles of rivers protected by the Wild & Scenic Rivers System.”

Players of Niantic’s games are encouraged to visit one of these locations between now and December 31st, then either send Niantic a postcard of their excursion or make a post on Instagram. Those who participate in the event will receive a special merit patch and a personalized note from Niantic. Additionally, Niantic will donate $5 to the National Park Foundation for every postcard or Instagram post received, up to a total of $100,000.

The campaign, perhaps rather obviously, is only for those in the US and its territories. More information and an FAQ can be found here.

Our Thoughts

Though the rewards for partaking in this event don’t exactly strike us as astonishing, we really can’t pour cold water on the idea behind this campaign or sneer at the possibility of the National Park Foundation getting a nice, healthy donation. Here’s hoping those who join in have an awesome time.

Source: Niantic website via Engadget

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Niantic Offers a Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Release Window

It’s not a firm release date, but a Harry Potter: Wizards Unite release window is just about as good. Unless you’re excited beyond words for the mobile AR game. In any case, Niantic’s CEO John Hanke has let at least a couple of beans spill.

wizards unite release window

Unfortunately, the release window in question is rather wide. Citing a story in the paywall-hidden Financial Times, Comicbook.com has reported that Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is eyeing a release sometime in the second half of 2018.

Hanke has promised that the rollout of Wizards will go smoother than 2016’s Pokemon GO as a result of experience. “In terms of dealing with public locations, government policy, regulations and public reaction to people being out in the real world, we have built up our expertise there,” said Hanke. The CEO is also promising that problems will be more swiftly handled this time around.

Additional details are currently unavailable, including scope of release and devices that will be supported.

Our Thoughts

We honestly weren’t really expecting this one to come out this year at all, let alone the nebulous window of 2018’s second half. While Hanke’s promises certainly nod to recognition of PoGo’s meteoric rise and fall, we’ll wait and see until things actually play out this time around.

Source: Comicbook.com via MMORPG.com

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Pokemon GO Adding Expanded AR Features for iOS Devices

Pokemon GO players running iOS 11 devices will soon see their game world come to a little more vivid life. In a future update, new Pokemon GO AR features will be introduced that will bring new dimension to the digital critters as well as some new gameplay experiences.

pokemon go ar features

The new augmented reality functions, dubbed AR+, will have individual Pokemon appear more accurately when viewing the world through the lens of the game. A more realistic sense of position, perspective, and size are all possible with the new upgrade.

The update isn’t just purely visual, either. The new feature allows players to attempt to sneak up on Pokemon before capturing. Successfully doing so will earn you a special capture bonus as well as an Expert Handler bonus that awards more XP and Stardust. That said, Pokemon won’t just wait completely idle, as they’ll be aware of your approach if you move too quickly.

The feature is specific to Apple devices running the ARKit framework. That means iPhone 6 and newer, the fifth generation iPad and all new iPad Pro models are included. Everyone else will be left out.

Our Thoughts

While the mental image of people slowly creeping up on something that isn’t visible to anyone else might strike as humorous, we have to admit that doing so in real life is probably a lot more involved and interesting than holding down a sneak button from the games. We also hope these new AR+ features are able to make their way to other players such as those on Android devices.

Source: press release

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Niantic Reveals Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Mobile AR Title

We thought that Maguss was a pretty good stand-in, but it looks like Niantic will grant us the real thing: in short, a Harry Potter mobile AR title, or perhaps more colloquially Harry Potter GO, is on the way.

harry potter mobile ar title

The actual name of the game is Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. In the initial reveal, Niantic promised players the opportunity to “learn spells, explore their real world neighborhoods and cities to discover & fight legendary beasts and team up with others to take down powerful enemies”.

“Almost five years ago Niantic launched Ingress, our first augmented reality mobile game,” opens the announcement. “Pokémon GO brought that vision to the world at unprecedented scale and served as a catalyst for the further development of the Niantic platform. We’re thrilled to partner with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and WB Games San Francisco’s development team to bring this magical and beloved series to life in a brand new way.”

A timeline for the game’s release was not part of the announcement, though the post does invite fans to follow either Niantic’s social channels or the ones created for the game itself. There’s also a new website created that lets players sign up for a newsletter.

Our Thoughts

We’re both a combination of extremely excited and highly skeptical: on the one hand, Harry Potter does feel like the kind of IP that would translate brilliantly to a mobile AR game. On the other hand, Niantic wasn’t exactly a shining star in terms of game launches and regular updates with Pokemon GO. Still, here’s hoping this game will have a smoother and more feature complete launch and will signal another benevolent epidemic.

Source: Niantic website

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