Pokemon GO’s Niantic cuts 100s of jobs in crisis mode

Pokemon GO’s Niantic cuts 100s of jobs in crisis mode
Images via Niantic

Written by 

Joseph Kime


30th Jun 2023 12:50

Once upon a time, Pokemon GO was the biggest game in the world. Everyone who was involved can remember the frenzy that appeared when the mobile game appeared in 2016, with Pokemon fans and new players alike taking to the streets to collect items, catch 'mon, and take on gyms.

Niantic's AR mobile game was once on top of the world and had no signs of slowing down. But now, it looks like operations in the developer's HQ are being brought to a screeching halt, with a serious restructuring putting the future of Niantic in jeopardy. 

Niantic just cut hundreds of staff

Key art for Pokemon GO, starring a smattering of characters and Pokemon alike.
Click to enlarge

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. In a pretty depressing move, Niantic has revealed that it's cutting hundreds of jobs and axing multiple games in order to focus on Pokemon GO.

This comes as part of an internal restructure with the hopes "to do less, better," and keep its primary game alive. A public statement from Niantic CEO John Hanke has revealed the move and announced the sunsetting of NBA All-World and cancelling of the upcoming Marvel: World of Heroes game.

It's alarming that the company is more willing to axe its team than take a minute to take stock of its constant output without any avail, but it's a depressingly frequent occurrence in the industry. Pokemon GO still makes bank, so it makes sense to try and save it from the brink. 

Niantic CEO reveals the reason for huge job cuts

Key art for the fourth anniversary of Pokemon GO.
Click to enlarge

In an email sent to staff, Hanke revealed that he made the decision to uproot the company because expenses have overtaken revenue. "In the wake of the revenue surge we saw during Covid, we grew our headcount and related expenses in order to pursue growth more aggressively," said Hanke.

"Expanding existing game teams, our AR platform work, new game projects and roles that support our products and our employees. Post Covid, our revenue returned to pre-Covid levels and new projects in games and platform have not delivered revenues commensurate with those investments."

This comes at something of a troubled time for the Pokemon GO team, with the Remote Raid Pass changes leading to developers getting death threats. More recently, there are claims that a U-turn on spawn radiuses is a way for the dev to try to kill off the game. Niantic's latest moves would suggest otherwise. 

Hanke vows that the axing of jobs will preserve "our core assets and long term upside." It's still sad that Niantic has done this over some optics in the past that wouldn't have robbed talented developers of their livelihoods - but this is just the way the industry spits teams out sometimes.

Joseph Kime is the Senior Trending News Journalist for GGRecon from Devon, UK. Before graduating from MarJon University with a degree in Journalism, he started writing music reviews for his own website before writing for the likes of FANDOM, Zavvi and The Digital Fix. He is host of the Big Screen Book Club podcast, and author of Building A Universe, a book that chronicles the history of superhero movies. His favourite games include DOOM (2016), Celeste and Pokemon Emerald.

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