Nintendo Co. has struck a long-term deal to develop augmented reality smartphone apps with Niantic Inc., the Google spinoff whose smash hit Pokémon Go introduced AR to a mainstream gaming audience.
The pair announced a long-term agreement in Tokyo Tuesday to turn Nintendo content into AR apps, which work by superimposing digital images onto the physical world. They will start by releasing a Pikmin app in 2021, based on the puzzle-solving series created by Nintendo’s creative fellow Shigeru Miyamoto in 2001.
San Francisco-based Niantic becomes Nintendo’s fourth smartphone app development partner, potentially giving the Kyoto-based company’s mobile efforts a much-needed push. Since 2016, Nintendo has developed fewer than 10 smartphone games with outside partners DeNA Co., Cygames Inc. and Line Corp.
Niantic, spun out of Alphabet Inc.’s Google in 2015, has been a global pioneer in developing smartphone apps with AR technology. Its most successful creation is Pokémon Go, which Niantic worked on with Nintendo affiliate Pokémon Co. and took the world by storm in 2016.
The Pikmin app will be the first of a series of collaborations between the two companies, and will be developed by Niantic’s Tokyo team. Pokémon Go director Tatsuo Nomura will lead development of the app.
The partnership announced Tuesday doesn’t include additional financial support for Niantic from the Japanese video game powerhouse, which joined Google and Pokémon Co. in a $30 million funding round for the studio in 2015.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.