Despite the fact that Pokemon GO is a popular game and a cash cow for Niantic Labs, the mobile AR game creator hasn’t had much luck duplicating the enchantment. CATAN: World Explorers, a mobile AR adaptation of a popular board game, is the latest example of its failure. While the heavyweight brand should have attracted attention and resources, it appears that the game was not meant to be, as it is being shut down soon after a year in early access.
It’s starting to feel like Pokemon GO is a one-off hit that Niantic Labs won’t be able to replicate. The initial game by the AR developers, Ingress, had a devoted fanbase but failed to gain enough traction to be considered profitable. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite attempted to recreate the magic of Pokemon GO with another internationally recognized property, but its implementation felt too similar to Pokemon GO to be considered separate.
In late 2019, Niantic Labs stated that it was developing on the CATAN IP, which will turn the globe into an AR gaming board. Resources are collected and managed, towns are built, and trading with other players are all part of the game. It may appear straightforward in board games and ordinary computer games, but converting the rules to real-world AR proved to be more than an insurmountable hurdle, or so Niantic Labs claims.
They built mechanisms that got too complicated and too far distant from the original CATAN that it didn’t make sense to continue with it, according to the announcement. Instead, on November 18th, 2021, at 7 a.m. UTC, the developers have opted to cut their losses and shut down the game. However, Niantic has taken the game down from app stores and removed real-money purchases from the in-game store.
CATAN: World Explorers has now joined the mobile augmented reality graveyard that Minecraft Earth began to occupy earlier this year. The AR version of the popular sandbox game, which was also developed by Mojang, survived only a year before proving to be too much of a waste of resources to keep alive. Unfortunately, only a few smartphone augmented reality games have managed to survive and thrive, making Pokemon GO genuinely unique.