The company made it into the headlines in the gaming world in September as Nintendo’s chosen partner for the co-development of Pokemon Go, a GPS-based mobile game using augmented reality to bring Pokemon creatures into the real world.
(The news of the Tokyo office didn’t make it into English-language media this week and isn’t mentioned on the company’s official site either.)
Niantic’s Japan office, the first subsidiary overall, was set up on December 3 in Tokyo’s Minato ward. It is led by Setsuto Murai who previously worked at Google Japan, top telco NTT and Japanese Internet conglomerate GMO. Pictures from the press conference can be found here.
According to a statement released by the new company, its purposes include the development of top-level real-world games (such as Pokemon Go) and – interestingly – a platform that is using AR and mapping.
In a quote, John Hanke (CEO of Niantic proper) says the platform is a new business he wants to see developing quicker through his company’s Japan operations.
Generally speaking, Japanese gaming companies (I mean Nintendo in this specific case) love going vertical by becoming platforms if any opportunity to do so opens up: so it might very well be that Pokemon is not the only Nintendo mobile game that will make use of AR and GPS going forward.