Pokémon Go dev reportedly lays off 8% of staff, cancels four more projects

Pokémon Go developer Niantic has reportedly fire 85 to 90 members of its staff and cancelled four of its in-development projects – including a previously announced Transformers game and a collaboration with theatre company Punchdrunk – amid “economic turmoil” for the company.

That’s according to Bloomberg, which has shared portions of an email sent to Niantic staff by the company’s chief executive officer John Hanke.

In the message, Hanke is said to have blamed today’s project cancellations and redundancies – which will affect around 8% of Niantic’s workforce – on the company facing “a time of economic turmoil”. Hanke reportedly claimed the moves would help “further streamline our operations in order to best position the company to weather any economic storms that may lie ahead.”

While Niantic confirmed it had cut jobs and ceased work on a number of projects in a statement provided to Bloomberg, saying the decision would enable it “to focus on our key priorities”, it didn’t specify which titles it had scrapped. According to Bloomberg, though, two unannounced games – Blue and Snowball – have now been ditched, alongside a Punchdrunk collaboration known as Hamlet, and Heavy Metal, a Transformers game announced last June.

Today’s new follows an already tumultuous period for Niantic, which has struggled to replicate the success of Pokémon Go with its other projects. Last September, it announced it was scrapping an already soft-launched version of board game Catan, and it revealed it was pulling the plug on Harry Potter: Wizards Unite earlier this year after it struggled to find an audience.

Despite today’s redundancies and development cutbacks, Niantic continues to announce new projects. Yesterday, it confirmed it was working on a real-world NBA game designed around the culture of basketball, and last August it laid out a long-term plan for a “real-world” metaverse based on our global reality.