Technology

Niantic is making a real-world NBA game

Pokémon Go developer Niantic has announced yet another new game, this time with its first foray into the world of sports. It’s called NBA All World, and it’s — as you’d expect from Niantic — a location-based game that also has augmented reality elements. The developer describes it as “NBA lifestyle meets the real-world metaverse.”

You might be wondering how exactly that would work. NBA All World looks a lot like Niantic’s other releases, filling up the map around you with various points of interest. The difference here is that they’re all basketball-themed instead of Pokémon-related. “We’re enveloping the world around you into a basketball universe, or what I personally like to call turning the real world into a basketball theme park,” senior producer Marcus Matthews explained in a presentation for the press. “Now, places and objects in the real world will become video game items; the convenience store near you has become a location to pick up stamina for your NBA player, the sporting goods store around the corner is the place to pick up the latest brand name shoe to customize your players.”

There are a few elements to the overall experience. There’s swipe-based one-on-one basketball, where you can go up against other players at basketball courts on your map, kind of like heading to a gym in Pokémon Go. This includes a leaderboard so you can be the best at a particular location. You’ll also be able to collect real-world NBA players by encountering and beating them on the map — it sounds a bit like the ultimate team feature in FIFA — and customize them with gear and in-game boosts. Niantic also says the game will have some location-based storytelling elements tied to the hometowns of NBA stars.

Much like the studio’s other releases, one of the game’s goals is to get players outside being active. “Location matters,” Matthews says. “So what you won’t be able to do is to sit at home and play remotely against your friend that’s in another city.”

All World is coming to both iOS and Android, and Niantic says it’s expected to roll out in full during the next NBA season.

The announcement comes as Niantic has a surprisingly large number of projects in the works. In addition to existing games like Pokémon Go and Ingress, the developer launched Pikmin Bloom last year, is working on a virtual pet game called Peridot, and also has a Transformers game in development.