Nintendo teams up with Niantic to create AR apps for its franchises

Multiple Pikmin carrying fruit in a real-world photo

Nintendo has announced a partnership with Niantic, the company known for AR experiences on smartphones, most notably Pokémon GO, which will see the two companies develop multiple AR titles featuring Nintendo's cast of characters. While Pokémon is a Nintendo franchise, it's handled by The Pokémon Company, which is only partly owned by Nintendo, so this is the first time Nintendo is working directly with Niantic.

Just like Pokémon GO, the apps coming from this partnership will be designed to "make walking more fun" and encourage outdoor activities. The first title in the series will be coming later this year, and while you might expect Nintendo to leverage its most popular franchises, it's actually starting with an app based on Pikmin.

The Pikmin series debuted on the GameCube and has only received three mainline entries in the past 20 years - Pikmin and Pikmin 2 released on the GameCube and were ported to the Wii, while Pikmin 3 released for the Wii U in 2013, but got ported to the Nintendo Switch with additional content last year as Pikmin 3 Deluxe. There was also a spin-off title, Hey! Pikmin, for the Nintendo 3DS released in 2017.

Pikmin, the creatures featured in the series of games, are tiny when compared to humans, so the title will play with the idea that they're living secretly around people. Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto said:

“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.”

Niantic, for its part, is expanding its portfolio of AR titles. The company made its videogame debut with Ingress in 2014 and then released Pokémon GO in 2016 using a lot of the same ideas. The company has also partnered with Warner Bros. to develop Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and now, the partnership with Nintendo brings even more well-known properties under its belt. The Pikmin game will also be the first one developed by Niantic Tokyo Studio, a development team established in 2018.

If you're interested, you can pre-register your interest in the app on this website.

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