San Francisco-based Niantic, the American software developer who developed the popular augmented reality (AR) game Pokémon GO, has partnered with Fold to launch an AR game for players to mine Bitcoin.
The company describes it as a real-world metaverse. Currently, Fold App users can use the beta version to earn Bitcoin and in-app benefits by exploring their physical surroundings. Niantic is expanding this experience, buoyed by Coatue’s most recent $300 million investment into the company.
“This is the easiest, most fun way to get your first piece of Bitcoin,” said Fold CEO Will Reeves.
“Anyone can use our app to earn Bitcoin and other rewards by exploring the world around them. For us, it’s always been important to make participating in the Bitcoin economy easy for anyone, regardless of education or technical expertise,” added Reeves.
Niantic’s metaverse and funding
Niantic is an augmented reality platform that has already tasted huge success by developing games like Pokémon GO. The recent infusion of $300 million from Coatue has raised the company’s valuation at $9 billion and is supposed to spur the company’s metaverse dreams into the reality of the future.
In August 2021, Niantic founder and CEO John Hanke referred to the metaverse, as perceived by VR headset bound gamers engrossed in massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) dystopian nightmare.
Ahead of Facebook, which rechristened itself to Meta to hint at larger investments in VR technology, Niantic is working on technology that will bring people closer to the outside world or merge real life with the virtual one.
Early in November, Niantic revealed its Lightship AR Developer Kit (ARDK), which curates tools to develop AR games publicly accessible for free to anyone who has a basic understanding of the Unity game engine.
AR to replace VR in Niantic’s world
The funding will help expand the ARDK. The AR projects promote smartphones to encourage people to explore their outside surroundings, unlike Facebook’s metaverse that heavily relies on virtual reality (VR).
Instead of finding rare creatures in the world, as is the case with Pokémon GO, Fold users will be able to discover and collect Bitcoin and other prizes around them, thanks in part to Niantic’s AR platform tech. Every 10 minutes, a new block containing fresh bounty will be dropped in the vicinity of a player.