The Pokémon Company
Pokémon's Niantic is partnering up with London-based theatre company Punchdrunk to deliver interactive augmented reality gaming experiences.
Punchdrunk is the brains behind immersive theatre experiences like Sleep No More, which focus on audiences wandering through sets as the play essentially happens around you, with the idea that it involves the viewer much more.
This format has seen rave reviews for Punchdrunk, heaping praise on the immersive theatre genre. It is this aspect Punchdrunk is trying to evolve with the help of Niantic.
Niantic, known for the hit AR game Pokémon GO, has seen great success with its AR formats. When Pokémon launched in 2016, it quickly became one of the most used and profitable mobile apps that year after receiving more than 500 million downloads by the end of the year.
Together these companies are developing multiple projects to further expand interactive entertainment by using augmented reality.
Augmented reality, for those who don't know, is simply the combination of real and virtual worlds which you can interact with.
To use Pokémon GO as an example; this game utilises AR through your phone's camera when in the app. Looking at your phone screen when in the game will show you wild Pokémon randomly appearing which you can interact with like they're actually there.
By tapping them on your phone, for example, you can capture them. Alternatively, you can just use the game's normal map which doesn't feature AR.
There are hopes that this new collaboration will lead to new advances for an augmented reality experience that will change mobile gaming, pushing it towards more of a live experience.
Shadow play: Scenes from Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More at the McKinnon Hotel in Shanghai (Punchdrunk)
Currently, Niantic has more than 10 new games in development including prototypes working on AR wearables centred around outdoor exploration, movement and social interaction.
Felix Barrett, Artistic Director of Punchdrunk said: “At Punchdrunk we create richly cinematic 3D worlds where audiences can explore, touch and smell the environment; where the boundaries between reality and fantasy are indistinguishable.
"I believe that Punchdrunk and Niantic can create something that has never been done before. They do it in AR, we do it in real life. Collide the two and I think we will blow people's minds; bend the rules of genre and redefine the norms of mobile gaming".
John Hanke, Founder and CEO of Niantic said: “Punchdrunk’s unique vision for real-world storytelling and a shared interest in pushing the bounds of world-building and immersion is what brought us together initially.
"Our teams have been collaborating for many months to create entirely new experiences that merge the physical and digital worlds in a way that hasn't before been attempted. We think the potential is global and massive.”