It's a big week for Niantic, which expanded its UK studio just before Harry Potter: Wizards Unite lands (here's ). The Pokemon Go developer acquired London-based Sensible Object, known for games like the AR-tabletop hybrid Beasts of Balance and -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.
"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 whose members is holding a Vaporeon plush -- perhaps suggesting that they'll be focusing on Pokemon Go initially.
Hanke, Niantic's boss, hinted that the London team's experience fits nicely with the company's 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," Hanke said in a separate post. "The team's deep roots in large-scale outdoor activations in particular is very complementary to the many Niantic 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, especially as Niantic faces major competition from Microsoft's .
First published at 3:25 a.m. PT.
Updated at 4 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.