Bulletins

Pokémon Go maker Niantic is shutting down its AR Catan game

The game will shut down on November 18 after a year of early access.

A logo and art screenshot of Catan: World Explorers.

The game was never officially launched, and now it will shut down in two months.

Image: Niantic

Niantic, the creator of Pokémon Go, is shutting down Catan: World Explorers, one of its more high-profile augmented reality follow-ups, before it even fully launches. The game will be gone for good on Nov. 18, the developer announced on the dedicated Catan: World Explorers website early Friday morning.


"After a year of exploring the world together, we are announcing today that CATAN – World Explorers will not be rolling out to more countries and instead we will be winding down the game over the coming months. The team thanks all of you, our dedicated players, for your feedback and your fun," the development team wrote in the blog post. It's not entirely clear what went wrong, but the post goes on to say that the project "got a little too complicated."

"We had a vision for trading, harvesting, and building up the world in seasonal play and resetting the board each month, just like you do for each new game you play at home. But trying to adapt such a well-designed board game to a global, location-based Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game was a tough challenge," the team said. "We're so proud of the game we made, however we got a little too complicated and a little too far from the original CATAN game. The work and knowledge that we learned working on this game is not lost and we're already working hard on more games for the future."

The shutdown marks a rare failure for Niantic, which became a gaming juggernaut and AR pioneer off the global success of Pokémon Go starting in 2016. The popularity of that title helped Niantic land a series of licensing deals with iconic brand names, such as Harry Potter and Transformers. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is still active, and Niantic is currently developing the Transformers title, as well as an AR game in Nintendo's Pikmin series.

Catan: World Explorers was announced the fall of 2019 and it promised to translate the German board game's iconic settler theme into the real world, using all the AR tricks that have made Pokémon Go such a hit. The game soft launched in an early access stage in various territories over the past 18 months, but never officially launched on either the App Store or Google Play for players in the U.S. or any other major markets. Current players have roughly two more months to enjoy the game, but real money purchases are being turned off and those with currency on their account will have the option to transfer it over to Pokémon Go.

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