Pokémon Go continues to be a hit, but Harry Potter has failed: Niantic returns to its roots with the AR game Peridot. What does the new game have in store?
The smartphone hunt for Pokémon, virtual creatures and monsters, made developer studio Niantic rich: Niantic is expected to have earned over five billion US dollars with Pokémon Go by 2021 and could increase sales by a whopping 34 percent from 2020 to 2021 alone.
But so far, the game has remained a one-hit wonder. Although Niantic tried to establish a similar game with the traction of the Harry Potter brand, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite failed to meet expectations: The game grossed only $4.9 million last year, while Pokémon Go grossed more than $1.1 billion during the same period. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was eventually discontinued in early 2022. Catan AR also failed.
But Niantic isn’t giving up and, in addition to Transformers AR, which is scheduled to launch later this year, is releasing a game that returns more to its Pokémon roots: Peridot is about raising fantasy creatures. It will also make better use of augmented reality technology than the previous games.
Peridot: unique pet breeding instead of much fighting
Niantic goes back to the Pokémon direction with Peridot, at least in terms of style. The focus is on colorful fantasy creatures, the eponymous Peridots (or Dots). Players raise Peridots from babies to adulthood, care for them, play with them, and eventually release them.
Each Peridot is unique, Niantic says. A special breeding system based on a mix of hand-crafted assets and procedural generation is designed to provide diversity among the Peridots.
Peridots can multiply from adulthood. This creates new peridots with unique characteristics. But it is a long way to adulthood for a peridot and its friend in real life: From babyhood, peridots have wishes that must be fulfilled every day.
This includes things like petting, going for a walk, or visiting a nearby attraction. Niantic combines the Tamagotchi principle with the Pokémon mechanics and once again focuses on movement and exploring the world.
Once a Peridot grows up, players release it – though they can still track it via an item. Niantic did not elaborate on how the bond with the virtual pet is maintained.
Adult Peridots are able to reproduce. This occurs in so-called habitats, around which adult Peridots congregate and are brought by players to breed new Dots via nests with certain characteristics (such as specific color patterns).
The system should make it possible to breed unique peridots. Exceptional archetypes can take a long time to breed.
Augmented reality to become more meaningful
Niantic is once again focusing on augmented reality. While it was rather optional in the previous games, AR is supposed to play a more important role in Peridot. The camera-based AR lets the Peridots recognize real surfaces, such as sand, water, grass, mud or leaves. Depending on the surface, the Dots can find different food or treasures.
According to Niantic, the digital representation of the Peridots in the real environment should be so good that the creatures feel “real”. The Dots are supposed to interact correctly with the environment – not just in terms of moving around on the floor or a table. They should also reliably detect obstacles and objects and maneuver around them correctly. Niantic’s Lightship ARDK technology should allow Peridots to hide behind real objects, for example. The real weather can also have an influence on the behavior of virtual pets.
Peridot: Release, beta and availability
The player’s own peridots or successes of any kind can be shared directly from the AR game via social media. In general, the players are supposed to interact a lot with each other, for example when breeding. Community events are not yet planned for the beginning, as the game will be released as part of a beta program.
The so-called soft launch is scheduled to start as early as the week of April 18, 2022. The beta will initially only be released in some regions in the Apple Store and the Google Play Store. Niantic has not given any details about the countries that will be available for the beta. It is expected that more countries will follow later. Nothing was revealed about monetization either – but I assume that microtransactions similar to those in Pokémon Go will be available.
You can find more information on the official Peridot website.