Google’s Alphabet just lost an “N”, after location-based gaming department Niantic Labs announced that it is going independent.
Niantic is the internal group behind Google’s popular game Ingress, which sees players on Android and iOS fight a worldwide battle to seize control of real-world locations by checking in nearby.
Ingress recently boasted its 12-millionth download, which, while solid numbers for a niche game, clearly puts it at the low end of the scale at which Google is used to operating. But rather than face the axe like other Google projects with a small but devoted userbase, such as Google Reader, Niantic is being spun off as an independent company, free to develop Ingress and its other app, Field Trip.
Perhaps if Niantic had waited a little longer, it may have found the independence it needs inside the mothership, following Google’s forthcoming reorganisation into a holding company called Alphabet. But as it stands, the company will become a fully independent entity.
A Google spokesperson told the Guardian: “Niantic Labs has created some incredibly innovative mobile experiences, like the popular augmented reality game Ingress, while being incubated within Google. They’re now ready to accelerate their growth by becoming an independent company, which will help them align more closely with investors and partners in the entertainment space. We’re excited to continue supporting them as they bring exploration and fun to even more people around the world.”
Niantic has given existing users a month to opt-out of having their data transfer to the new standalone company, “to prevent any disruption in your gameplay”, and says that it is “looking forward to taking our unique blend of exploration and fun to even bigger audiences”.
This article was written by Alex Hern, for theguardian.com on Friday 14th August 2015 13.09 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010