Niantic Labs, maker of the popular location-based game “Ingress,” is being spun out of Google to become an independent company. “We’ll be taking our unique blend of exploration and fun to even bigger audiences with some amazing new partners joining Google as collaborators and backers,” the newly formed company said in a post on Google+ Wednesday.
The move comes just two days after a major restructuring for Google, which included the introduction of a new holding company called Alphabet. However, Niantic Labs won’t be residing under the Alphabet umbrella, but instead function as an independent company backed by Google and other still-unnamed investors.
In Niantic Labs’ location-based, augmented reality game “Ingress,” teams compete against each other in the real world to complete missions with their smart phones — think capture the flag, but with elaborate sci-fi storylines. “Ingress” has been downloaded more that 12 million times, and drawn more than 250,000 people to real-live events around the world, according to Niantic Labs.
The team behind “Ingress” also developed Field Trip, a sightseeing app that suggests content to users based on their location. But Wednesday’s announcement, as well as job openings posted to Niantic’s website, suggest that the future of the company may be in entertainment, and perhaps in closer partnerships with Hollywood.
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A Google spokesperson specifically said that the move will help Niantic to “align more closely with investors and partners in the entertainment space.”