The Japanese video game company Nintendo is partnering with Niantic, the developer of popular mobile game Pokemon Go, to create augmented reality (AR) titles, with a Pikmin-themed app which is launching this year.
With the partnership, Nintendo will be enabled to restart its suspended mobile ambitions after the firm struggled to replicate the appeal of Pokemon Go, which became a social phenomenon as gamers stepped onto the streets to “catch” Pokemon using their phones.
The first mobile adaptation of the long-running Pikmin franchise, in which users direct hordes of plant-like Pikmin creatures to complete puzzles, was developed by Niantic in 2018.
“Niantic’s AR technology has made it possible for us to experience the world as if Pikmin are secretly living all around us,” veteran Nintendo games creator Shigeru Miyamoto said in a statement.
“The app will make walking more fun with Pikmin. It’s going to be very different from Pokemon Go,” Tatsuo Nomura, head of Niantic’s Tokyo studio tweeted.
Recently, Nintendo’s mobile releases have underperformed and delayed the timeframe outlined by management. Some of the rare Nintendo-backed apps with elements of play include toothbrushing app Pokemon Smile and upcoming sleep tracking app Pokemon Sleep.
“The Pikmin app is unlikely to set the world on fire as Pokemon did. Every grandparent knows Pokemon, but only gamers know Pikmin,” said Serkan Toto, founder of game industry consultancy Kantan Games.
In 2019, San Francisco-based Niantic launched a Harry Potter-themed app but it could not reach up to the heights of Pokemon Go, which was developed with Nintendo affiliate The Pokemon Company and left Nintendo with only a small proportion of revenue.
The Kyoto-based gaming firm’s efforts to expand outside console gaming were boosted last week by the belated opening of the Super Nintendo World area at Osaka’s Universal Studios Japan theme park.