I have never been a gamer because video games make me dizzy. However, I have gotten hooked playing Pokémon GO on the iPhone 7+. I like several things about the game.
The technology is impressive. Thinking about millions of people playing the game at the same time with all the results and triggers happening in the cloud is really amazing. The graphics and animations are very professional and entertaining. Lastly, Pokémon Go fits nicely with my habit of daily walks. You do have to be careful you don’t walk into a tree or a moving car. As of today, I have caught 65 Pokémon, received 18 medals, and reached Level 19. Not bad for somebody 3-4 times older than the average Pokémon Go player.
Niantic, Inc. spun out of Google in October 2015 in partnership with Nintendo and The Pokémon Company. The company says its mission is, “to delight our customers with innovative entertainment experiences which blend works of the imagination with the real world to enable our users to have fun while visiting new places, learning about the world around them, and meeting new friends.” The company’s systems utilize “high throughput real-time geospatial querying and indexing techniques”. The cloud servers process hundreds of millions of game actions per day as people interact with real and virtual objects in the physical world.
Games are serious stuff, especially those built with 3D, augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. Some of the job openings currently available at Niantic Labs include Production Engineer, Server Infrastructure Software Engineer, Machine Learning Engineer (AI), Mobile Software Engineer, Unity (a multi platform game development tool) Game Developer, Quality Assurance Engineer, Operations Manager, and Unity Technical Artist.
The financial side of games is enormous. The video game market’s total digital revenue increased 13% year-over-year in November 2016 to $6.7 billion. That was for one month. Although Pokémon GO is free, gamers can make in-app purchases for numerous kinds of “items” such as Poké Balls, which are used to capture Pokémon. In its second-quarter earnings report, Nintendo disclosed it made $115 million in licensing fees from Pokémon GO. The game has made an estimated $600 million in revenue for Niantic Labs in the three months since it launched.