It's hard to imagine a world without Pokemon Go, but its developer Niantic just celebrated its fifth anniversary. Earlier today, John Hanke, the CEO of Niantic, celebrated the company's fifth anniversary with a letter looking back at the company's milestones to date along with its upcoming plans for the future. Of note - Hanke noted that Niantic is hard at work building the world's largest repository of 3D images of real-world places, with AR scans made of over 635,000 different real world sites. "So much has changed," Hanke wrote. "We’ve grown up a lot. Yet when I look back on the last five years and everything we’ve done to get to this moment, it strikes me that the Niantic we know today, however different it might look, has kept much of its DNA. What remains at the heart of why we do what we do is our belief that technology—augmented reality, specifically—can make a profound positive impact on the world."
Niantic Labs originally launched in 2010 as an "internal startup" within Google that utilized Google Maps and users to build a database cataloging interesting places around the world. After designing the Field Trip app, Niantic launched its first game Ingress, which pitted two global teams against each other to claim in-game Portals that coincided with real world locations. After Niantic spun off from Google, it announced development of Pokemon Go, a game that focused on "catching Pokemon" in the real world. When Pokemon Go became a massive hit (crashing Niantic's servers repeatedly in the process), Niantic became a household name. While its follow-up Harry Potter: Wizards Unite hasn't enjoyed the same popularity as Pokemon Go, the company is still estimated to be making millions of dollars in in-game revenue per month.
In addition to its lofty AR plans, Niantic is also developing CATAN: World Explorers, a new mobile game that uses Niantic's tried and true combination of real world locations and in-game play to turn the entire world into a giant game of Settlers of Catan. No release date has been announced for CATAN: World Explorers.
You can read Hanke's full letter on Niantic's webpage.