‘Pokémon GO’ Developer Niantic Expands AR Toolset with WebAR Acquisition

Niantic, the company behind Pokémon GO, the Lightship AR SDK, and more, announced this week that it has acquired 8th Wall, creators of AR development tools designed to run through web browsers with wide reach across devices.

In what the company calls its “largest acquisition to date,” Niantic this week announced that is has acquired 8th Wall, a company known for its toolset that allows developers to build web-based AR content. Neither company disclosed the price of the acquisition, though 8th Wall had previously raised $10.4 million in funding since its founding in 2016, according to Crunchbase.

Though best known for its games like Pokémon GO, Niantic is moving to position itself as a platform for AR development. The company recently launched its Lightship SDK—a suite of AR development tools to give third-parties the ability to create world-scale AR content—along with a $20 million development fund to kickstart the platform.

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While Niantic’s Lightship SDK is designed to integrate with the popular game engine Unity—and ultimately produce standalone app-based experiences—the company’s acquisition of 8th Wall expands its toolset to cover web-based AR content as well. Strategically that moves Niantic closer to being a one-stop shop for developers building AR content across a broad range of devices.

8th Wall says its web-based AR tech supports “5 billion smartphones across iOS and Android as well as computers and [XR] headsets.” You can check out an example of content created with 8th Wall’s tools by visiting 8th.io/niantic from any browser. From our understanding, 8th Wall’s tools are not based on the WebXR standard.

Niantic hasn’t signaled any immediate plans to merge its own Lightship SDK with the 8th Wall toolset, saying that developers can “build sophisticated AR experiences with Lightship & Unity and build lighter-weight AR experiences with 8th Wall.”