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Harry Potter: Wizards Unite developer Niantic acquires AR studio – CNET

Niantic is expanding its footprint in Harry Potter's home country.

Portkey Games

It's a big week for Niantic, which expanded its UK studio just before Harry Potter: Wizards Unite lands in the US and UK. The Pokemon Go developer acquired London-based Sensible Object, known for games like the AR-tabletop hybrid Beasts of Balance and Amazon Alexa-powered When in Rome -- which basically combine physical and digital experiences.

It'll spearhead Niantic London along with Matrix Mill, an AI and machine vision research team Niantic bought in 2018, GamesIndustry noted.

The studio's older games will still be supported, former Sensible Objects studio head Alex Fleetwood (who's now leading Niantic London) said in a blog post.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite developer Niantic acquires AR studio     - CNET

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"CEO John Hanke and his team have an incredible, progressive vision for the future of play that resonates deeply with us; building global communities, pioneering new forms of augmented reality, and helping people get outside, get exercise and connect with one another in the real world," he wrote.

The post includes a photo of the team, one of whom is holding a Vaporeon plush -- perhaps suggesting that they'll be focusing on Pokemon Go initially.

Niantic boss John Hanke hinted that the London team's experience fits nicely with its gaming ambitions.

"We're excited about Sensible Object joining Niantic as it significantly advances our efforts in developing a wide range of gaming experiences that bring the physical and digital world closer together," he said in a separate post.

"The team's deep roots in large-scale outdoor activations in particular is very complementary to the many Niantic real world events we host around the world to engage with our loyal players."

It'd be pretty exciting to see the former Sensible Object team bringing its hybrid approach to Pokemon Go or Wizards Unite, especially as Niantic faces major competition from Microsoft's upcoming AR game Minecraft Earth.

First published at 3:25 a.m. PT.
Updated at 4 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.

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