Pokémon GO creator Niantic is acquiring WebAR development platform 8th Wall

Niantic, the augmented reality platform behind Pokémon GO, is acquiring WebAR development platform 8th Wall, the company announced on Thursday. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Niantic says the deal marks its largest acquisition to date. The company says the acquisition will help enhance its developer platform while also helping developers create their visions for AR.

Founded in 2016, 8th Wall currently supports billions of devices globally, including 5 billion smartphones across iOS and Android as well as computers and AR/VR headsets, Niantic says. Its platform has been used to create AR activations by numerous companies, including Netflix, Microsoft, Universal Pictures and more.

“From the beginning, Niantic set out to build AR technology that enables people to connect to others, discover new places, and play with friends in the real world,” Niantic said in a blog post about the announcement. “To make this happen, we’re fusing the physical and the digital by creating the world’s most precise 3D map of the planet. With our Lightship platform, launched globally in November last year, we’re offering all developers the world’s largest immersive canvas to bring their creations to life on a massive scale. 8th Wall greatly complements our vision for Lightship, and we plan to expand our developer platform tools with their proven WebAR technology.”

In a blog post about the acquisition, 8th Wall founder and CEO Erik Murphy-Chutorian said that by joining Niantic, 8th Wall will be able to create more tools to build engaging AR experiences that will encourage people to discover new places.

“We started 8th Wall to build powerful computer vision technology that would enable developers to create AR applications that could run everywhere seamlessly,” Murphy-Chutorian said. “We did this with a complete set of tools to create WebAR. There is so much potential for web-based augmented reality and we will continue to unlock this through the lens of Niantic’s real-world AR universe. We are looking forward to working with Niantic to create the best planet-scale platform technologies to foster even more magical shared experiences.”

The acquisition comes a few months after Niantic raised $300 million from Coatue, valuing the company at $9 billion. The company plans to use the investment to build what it calls the “real-world metaverse.”

Pokémon GO, which is arguably the company’s most popular endeavor, continues to prove to be successful, as it earned over $1 billion in 2020, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower. Not all of Niantic’s games have turned out to be successful — the company recently announced it will shut down Harry Potter: Wizards Unite after in-app consumer spending and global installs dropped 57% year over year.