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Niantic, The Company Behind Pokémon Go, is Exploring Web 3.0

Crashing prices, daily revelations of frauds, and the continuous usability catastrophe of blockchain-based computing have made venture investors’ next big bet look more like a pipe dream than anything that could be called “web 3.0.”

Crypto-based video games, which appeared last year to have a huge following interested in acquiring non-fungible tokens, have instead sparked a widespread outcry over alleged developer profiteering. As a result, game giants have started abandoning the market.

However, one prominent gaming company is going in the other direction.

“I believe it has a potential impact on our sector — but it’s also perhaps the most controversial subject we could discuss,” stated John Hanke, CEO of Niantic, the developer behind the popular game Pokémon Go.

Hanke made the statement while giving the final keynote presentation at his company’s first-ever developer summit on Tuesday morning. Niantic had already announced the latest Lightship edition of their augmented-reality developer platform, which features a location-mapping tool known as the Visual Positioning System. Hanke also revealed Campfire, a social-networking application that opens to a map and allows users to find and interact with Pokémon and its other games’ players and events.

But as his talk came to a close, he wanted to mention one more thing: Niantic’s early experiments with integrating blockchain technologies into its games.

Niantic Crypto Vision

Niantic’s acquisition of SpotX Games, a Miami-based firm, offers a hint of where the company may take crypto-based gaming in the future.

SpotX describes itself as a “Web 3.0” innovation studio for the real-world metaverse. It specializes in building crypto-based scavenger hunts that turn the experience of playing into digital collectibles.

In March, SpotX showed a scavenger hunt game that provided cash prizes for visiting various locations in Austin, USA and interacting with them via web-based AR tools on phones. Anyone who completed the game may create an NFT that highlights the locations visited by the participants.

SpotX Map

According to Hanke, the NFT was more than a “beautiful picture – it’s a remembrance of what you did,” according to Hanke.

It reveals that Niantic may try to use the technology to commemorate and authenticate experiences as payers move through the real world.

On stage Tuesday, Hanke observed, “It’s early days here.” “I believe you’ll hear more from us on this subject in the future.”

The company has also demonstrated with Pokémon Go that it could take a nascent technology like augmented reality and massively mainstream, making over 5 billion USD in revenue within five years of its launch.

It is one of the reasons why many in the industry are interested in Hanke’s tentative embrace of crypto and Web 3.0. The company seems to be a long way from bringing the tech to its flagship properties like Pokémon. However, gamers revolting against the mere suggestion that NFTs may come to their titles makes one curious to know what about the blockchain appeals to Niantic.

Hanke’s Blockchain Vision

Hanke, like many others, is driven to crypto because it promises decentralization — the idea that interacting with the web through wallets will empower individual users at the expense of platforms.

He stated on stage Tuesday that today’s web3 arguments reminded him of the dot-com period when he was a young pioneer. Hanke co-founded a startup called Keyhole in 2000, which Google bought four years later and renamed Google Maps.

“To be honest, it’s quite simple to disregard that whole collection of technologies based on things we read about,” Hanke told developers. “I believe that would be a major blunder. This technology, I believe, holds a great deal of significance.”

It is clear that Niantic only has some very early plans; Hanke was also straightforward in that the company has more questions than answers regarding Web 3.0. In addition, he also talked about how NFTs may never come to Pokémon Go or any of its other titles.

However, at the same time, Niantic has something that only a handful of crypto-curious game developers have: millions of users. It gives the company an influence. And, presuming that anyone can work out how to make crypto useful or entertaining, the user base might provide a big opportunity for the still-private corporation.