Pokemon Go Maker Niantic Cancels Transformers Game, Lays Off 8% of Staff

The maker of the hit mobile game Pokemon Go has cancelled a number of upcoming games and laid off approximately 8% of its staff. Bloomberg was the first to report that Niantic laid off between 85 and 90 employees this week, citing a need to "further streamline" their operations ahead of economic uncertainty. A spokesperson confirmed the news to Bloomberg, stating that Niantic "recently decided to stop production on some projects and reduce our workforce by about 8% to focus on our key priorities. We are grateful for the contributions of those leaving Niantic and we are supporting them through this difficult transition."

The company also cancelled a number of projects, including an augmented reality game featuring the Transformers. Three other projects, codenamed "Hamlet," "Blue Sky" and "Snowball" were also cancelled as part of the layoffs. Hamlet was a collaboration between Niantic and Punchdrunk, the theater company behind the play Sleep No More. Niantic previously cancelled games based on Harry Potter and the CATAN board game, the latter of which never advanced past its beta stage. 

The news comes just a day after Niantic announced a new collaboration with the NBA called NBA All-World, which will allow players to collect NBA players and pit them against other player's teams. That game is scheduled to be released during the NBA's 2022-2023 season. Niantic noted that it would continue to work on that game as well as Pokemon Go and other active projects.

Although Pokemon Go remains one of the most successful mobile games currently on the market, Niantic has struggled to replicate its success despite a series of high profile IPs and partnership. It also has had an up-and-down relationship with Pokemon Go's fans, with fans regularly pushing back on changes made to the game, especially after Niantic rolled back several adjustments made during the COVID-19 pandemic.