Though it is no longer making headlines, “Pokemon GO” continues to have a large fan base, especially now that people are able to go out and about again. That doesn’t mean Niantic Labs’ other projects aren’t taking the mobile market by storm. It had its ups and downs, including titles that were canceled before they even released. That hasn’t stopped mobile AR experts from aiming higher, forming alliances with big names and properties. The company’s most recent project may be its largest yet, but it is also the most perplexing. However, given how the basketball market is already primed for such an indirect experience, it could also be Niantic’s most successful one.
“NBA All-World” is both similar and distinct from what Niantic has attempted thus far. The AR developers have previously worked with established IPs and incorporated mechanics that required a significant amount of walking and traveling, but these do not always fit the theme or nature of the franchise. You’ll still do some of those things with this basketball-themed augmented reality game, which Niantic announced on its blog, but it might make more sense here than in “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.”
According to Niantic’s description, the upcoming basketball game contains mechanics or ideas that may remind you of “Pokemon GO.” You don’t collect monsters, but you may come across popular basketball players who you must challenge and defeat before they can join your team. Certain locations, such as basketball courts, are transformed into trainer gyms where you can compete one-on-one with another player, just like you would in real life. Of course, in “NBA All-World,” you don’t play real-world basketball, but rather use swipe-based commands to shoot, block, or fake out opponents. Basketball fans are used to playing games like this, so it won’t feel strange or awkward.
Niantic will combine the real world and virtual basketball
“NBA All-World,” like anything related to basketball and the NBA, has a commercial component with even more potential than any of Niantic’s previous games. Players will gain access to accessories and items for virtual basketball players by visiting locations such as sporting goods stores. Again, basketball fans are familiar with merchandising, and this could be a lucrative market for the NBA, Niantic, and even advertisers.
To some extent, “NBA All-World” has a stronger metaverse atmosphere than “Pokemon GO.” Aside from the gaming aspect, the virtual space offers numerous opportunities for brands to advertise and profit through collaborations. There’s also a fashion element to the experience, particularly with shoes, which people love to collect in both reality and virtual reality.
At the moment, however, it’s all speculation because “NBA All-World” has yet to be released. Niantic is also working on a few other games, including its own Tamagotchi-style “Peridot” title. It remains to be seen whether “NBA All-World” will succeed where others have failed, but all of the elements are in place for a fledgling metaverse game.