Nintendo and Niantic are teaming up to make AR-based mobile apps, the first of which will be centered around Pikmin.
As with Pokémon GO, the Pikmin app will use Augmented Reality to combine images from the real world and digital elements, in this case, the plant-based creatures. This will be the first in a series of apps the two companies are developing together, all aimed to integrate Niantic’s AR technology with Nintendo’s biggest IPs. Niantic’s CEO John Hanke said the deal is part of the expansion strategy for the company, which recently opened a new studio in Tokyo. Hanke said in a press release posted by Nintendo, “as we [Niantic] continue to expand our games portfolio, it was a natural next step to team up with Nintendo.”
The Pikmin franchise revolves around small alien creatures called Pikmin which can be planted, harvested, and controlled by the players to solve environmental puzzles. Pikmin are shown in the games to be small in comparison to everyday items, like bottles and coins, which leads to the illusion the little aliens could easily hide from our sight in the real world. According to Nintendo’s game director Shigeru Miyamoto, this is the idea Niantic’s app will explore, by introducing Pikmin in our everyday life. According to Miyamoto:
“Niantic’s AR technology has made it possible for us to experience the world as if Pikmin are secretly living all around us. Based on the theme of making walking fun, our mission is to provide people a new experience that’s different from traditional games. We hope that the Pikmin and this app will become a partner in your life.”
Last year, Nintendo released Pikmin 3 for the Nintendo Switch, an updated version of the 2013 Wii U game. The most recent new installment in the franchise was 2017’s Hey! Pikmin, which was released for the Nintendo 3DS. Pikmin also make several appearances in Universal Studios Japan’s recently opened Super Mario World, so it seems like Nintendo still has high hopes for the franchise. Moving to the mobile market is a great strategy to keep the IP alive without great financial risks. The success of the Pikmin app could mean other Nintendo franchises could soon follow, and series like The Legend of Zelda and Mario could get their first AR experiences.
Nintendo’s announcement tweet reads: “What would it be like to have a more fun walking experience surrounded by Pikmin? In a new mobile app developed by Niantic Labs and Nintendo coming later in 2021, explore the real world and create memories with your Pikmin friends.”
There’s still no official name to the Pikmin mobile game or a more precise release date, but it seems as though this Pikmin game is just the first of many exciting AR experiences coming from Nintendo and Niantic.
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