Niantic has carved a niche for itself by creating video games that reward players for exploring the real world. They’ve successfully done it with “Pokemon Go” and have had mixed success with other projects beyond that.
Its next foray into creating a geolocation augmented reality game is “NBA All-World.”
“Sports are a huge part of people’s lives and a huge part of pop culture,” said John Hanke, founder & CEO of Niantic, in a news release. “Our version of an NBA basketball game starts with exciting one-on-one gameplay and expands from there to include the major elements of basketball culture, including music, fashion, sneakers and more, all of which are integrated into real world locations.”
The best way to describe it is that it appears to meld some of the “Pokemon Go” elements and adds to a sports title. Just like in its flagship game, players will explore their neighborhoods, and visiting real-life allocations will net them resources such as energy drinks or gear that will help the NBA players they recruit.
Interestingly enough, the NBA players are almost like Pokemon. That’s not a joke. The pro athletes pop up throughout the world, and by beating them at a competition, they have an opportunity to earn experience points, cred and other resources. They may also recruit them, so that they can be used in other competitions.
Players have 15 slots open for a team, and so far, there are 75 players to acquire, including the likes of Zion Williamson, LeBron James and Stephen Curry. Each athlete has his own stats and all of them can be upgraded if the gamer uses them in different events.
As for the drills and other contests, they rely on a shooting meter in which players have to time their press. On offense, they can also dribble left, right or juke their opponent to get to the basket. On the defensive side, players can tap steal or block, and if they can do it at the right time, they can get a stop.
It’s simple and geared toward a casual audience for quick pick-up-and-play opportunities. If players have the itch for competition, they can compete in Arena Tournaments where gamers’ crews go up against rival recruits in one-on-one contests. To enter, these cost cred and that’s picked up by exploring the game world.
A gamer’s NBA players will also grow tired from constant play, and they’ll need energy drinks to restore that stamina. If they play below 10% energy, it causes reduced skills and poor play. Gathering resources by going out is the loop that nudges players to explore.
It’s an interesting approach to adapting Niantic’s formula to the sports genre. The big questions facing the game is whether this form of basketball play will be enticing to a broader audience.