Pokémon Go Studio Cancels Projects, Cuts More Than 80 Staff As It Struggles To Find Next Hit

Pokémon Go Studio Cancels Projects, Cuts More Than 80 Staff As It Struggles To Find Next Hit
Photo: Rafael Henrique / SOPA Images / LightRocket, Getty Images

The mobile game company behind Pokémon Go, Niantic, is struggling to find its next big hit. And now, a new report claims the studio cancelled multiple projects and laid off staff members in an effort to “streamline” operations.

The San Francisco-based publisher cut 85 to 90 jobs and cancelled four in-development games, including a Transformers spin-off announced last year called Heavy Metal, according to a Bloomberg report published today, Bloomberg further reported that an email was sent from CEO John Hanke to staff that said the company was “facing a time of economic turmoil” and that after previous efforts to cut costs, Niantic still needed to “further streamline our operations in order to best position the company to weather any economic storms that may lie ahead.”

Other reportedly cancelled games include Hamlet, a planned collaboration between Niantic and theatre company Punchdrunk, and Blue Sky and Snowball, but it’s unclear if those were planned titles or internal codenames.

Niantic found big success with 2016’s AR-powered Pokémon Go, but it still hasn’t been able to replicate that success. In 2019, the studio released Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, but it never found a large audience and was eventually shut down earlier this year. Other games based on Pikmin and Catan have also failed to set the world on fire.

Read More: Niantic Mapped The World. Now They’re Mapping You

In a statement sent to Kotaku, a Niantic spokesperson confirmed the news of the layoffs and explained it planned to continue to support Pokémon Go and its other games and projects.

“We recently decided to stop production on some projects and reduce our workforce by about eight per cent to focus on our key priorities,” said Niantic. “We are grateful for the contributions of those leaving Niantic, and we are supporting them through this difficult transition.

The company also told Kotaku that this move will allow the company to focus more on “new experiences” and that it will “continue investing in the future of AR.”

While it’s true Niantic will keep investing in new games — the company did just announce a new project with the NBA after all — it’s unlikely that those laid off will find comfort in that fact. I can’t imagine watching your company continue to make billions of dollars on a single game while laying off staff is a good way to boost morale.



  • I mean what did they expect really. Pokemon Go was only a HUGE success because of the IP tied to it. If it had been Random Slime Monsters are Go, it would have barely registered on peoples radars.

    Kind of insane that they thought – ermaghad we so successful lets hire way more people and start churning out multiple titles with no IP attached and we’ll have the same success. Very short sighted as well.

    • Maybe contact them, I am sure they would love a deep commercial analysis from a random person on a gaming site comments section, with no access to their inner workings. A person who is clearly ignoring that the world is a very different place, with different issues than it was when they hirer them. But what do I know, I am just another random guy on a gaming site, shooting the breeze.

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