Niantic Labs has been around for a long time and, at one point in time, was even a Google company. Its core business was to bring augmented reality games to the mobile market, but its first title wasn’t a commercial success, despite Ingress gaining a faithful following. It finally struck gold with Pokemon GO and has been trying to recreate that success ever since. It has recently partnered with Nintendo again for a relatively more obscure franchise, and Pikmin Bloom is now launching worldwide as people start walking outdoors again.
Pikmin Bloom is a bit of a gamble for Niantic Labs, compared to its other bigger attempts using more popular franchises. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite should have been a roaring success given the brand’s popularity, but its “reskinned Pokemon GO” experience didn’t sell well with fans. Catan: World Explorers should have been able to draw from almost decades of board game experiences, but those didn’t translate well to augmented reality.
In comparison, Pikmin and its plant-like creatures are probably only known to some Nintendo gamers, which might not help spread its name to smartphone users. On the other hand, it’s a name that isn’t immediately associated with a well-known game and gamers, so it might feel more approachable for “casual” mobile gamers. Considering the AR game’s main mechanic, that could actually work in its favor.
Like Pokemon GO and Niantic’s other games, Pikmin Bloom revolves around walking. A lot of walking, in fact. It’s pretty much a gamified pedometer, making flowers bloom as you take more steps. The game also has an element of logging memories and reminiscing about those moments in the future.
As far as gameplay is concerned, Pikmin Bloom is admittedly lighter than Pokemon GO, which involves some level of competition through Pokemon battles. Whether that will help it appeal to more smartphone users, however, still remains to be seen. Niantic Labs hasn’t had a lot of success so far in recreating the magic of Pokemon GO, but at least it doesn’t seem fazed by those failures.