Is basketball bigger than Pokemon? Niantic has to hope so

The augmented reality pioneer brings the world's biggest NBA stars to your neighbourhood

Is basketball bigger than Pokemon? Niantic has to hope so

Niantic's next release has been announced, with the augmented/mixed reality pioneer hoping that basketball will be as popular as Pokemon, with its first sports title: NBA All World.

Niantic has partnered with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Basketball Players Association (NPBA) to launch the officially licensed game.

NBA All World promises similar real-world location hunting from Niantic's previous titles - most notably Pokemon Go, which will bring "the world of the NBA to neighbourhoods around the world". Players will be able to explore their local area and encounter famous NBA players, recruit them to their teams, level them up and compete to become rulers of their local courts.

Niantic is also promising that through NBA All-World, players will: "learn about real-world locations that are the personal favourites of today’s NBA players."

It will be interesting to see how the game measures up to the colossal (and ongoing) success of its Pokemon-based sibling. While a love of Pikachu, Jigglypuff and Bulbasaur is shared around the world, how a global audience responds to athletes such as Jalen Green, Jordan Poole, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins (and their favourite locations) remains to be seen.

...this game helps expand the world of the NBA and its culture into virtually every neighbourhood around the globe.
Matt Holt

Niantic seems confident that the game will reach players around the world and that the culture around basketball will play a large part in the game's future success.

"Sports are a huge part of people’s lives and a huge part of pop culture,” said John Hanke, Founder & CEO of Niantic. “Our version of an NBA basketball game starts with exciting one-on-one gameplay and expands from there to include the major elements of basketball culture, including music, fashion, sneakers and more, all of which are integrated into real-world locations.”

“We look forward to our fans fully immersing themselves in NBA All-World as they develop deeper connections with players, the league and each other,” said Matt Holt, Head of Merchandising Partnerships at the NBA. “Through our collaboration with Niantic and the NBPA, this game helps expand the world of the NBA and its culture into virtually every neighbourhood around the globe.”

NBA All World was developed using Niantic's Lightship technology and makes use of the company's social app Campfire to create a real-world social element for the game. The game is out now on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Managing Editor

Brian has been working in the games industry since the mid-1990s, when he joined the legendary studio DMA Design, as a writer on the original Grand Theft Auto. Since then he's worked with major publishers, founded his own digital agency, helped numerous startups with PR, marketing, communications, narrative design, branding and making money.

Back in 2004 Brian created the Scottish Games Network, the industry body for the country's videogames sector. He also lectures at Napier University on the transformative power of interactive media on the creative industries, is a board member of Creative Edinburgh, and helps to organise games, tech and creative industries events.

In his spare time he plays videogames and is usually, proudly, at least one generation behind the cutting edge consoles.