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The newest game from the makers of ‘Pokémon Go’ was built for NBA fans

“NBA All-World” gives players a chance to recruit digital versions of NBA stars and collect digital gear

SHARE The newest game from the makers of ‘Pokémon Go’ was built for NBA fans
Colton Sullivan and his brother Sam participate in the Pokemon Go Fest 2019 on Thursday, June 13, 2019.

Colton Sullivan, right, and his brother Sam, of Joliet, Ill., participate in the Pokemon Go Fest 2019, in Chicago’s Grant Park while playing the Pokemon Go game Thursday, June 13, 2019.

Amr Alfiky, Associated Press

The company behind one of the most popular phone games in recent history launched its latest project this week: A game that should be especially fun for NBA fans.

“NBA All-World,” which was created by Niantic in partnership with the NBA and National Basketball Players Association, allows users to “find, challenge and compete against today’s NBA ballers in their neighborhoods, then recruit them to their team before proving themselves on the court,” according to NBA.com.

Like “Pokémon Go,” Niantic’s hugely popular game that launched in 2016, “NBA All-World” is an augmented reality game that relies on a smartphone’s geolocation capabilities.

Players walk around their neighborhood, or a park or the mall with the game app open and run into (in the game) digital versions of NBA stars.

“Fans can explore their own neighborhoods to encounter today’s NBA players, recruit them to their teams, level them up and compete to become rulers of their local courts,” NBA.com reported.

By walking around while playing in the app, users can also discover “drop zones” with special digital gear for their players.

“Players will have the opportunity to outfit their squads with the latest gear by searching for real-world drops from a variety of well-known brands,” per NBA.com.

With “NBA All-World,” Niantic hopes to build on the success of “Pokémon Go” and move past the challenges encountered with a once-promising game that came after it, according to Front Office Sports.

The company shut down “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” in January 2022, two years after it launched, after failing to capture lightning in a bottle twice.

“‘Wizards Unite seemingly didn’t find the same wide audience of ‘Pokémon Go,’ or Niantic’s previous (augmented reality) game, ‘Ingress,’ to sustain itself,” Polygon reported when Niantic announced the game’s end.

After the “Harry Potter” shutdown, Niantic canceled four upcoming projects and laid off around 8% of its staff, according to TechCrunch.

On Wednesday, the official Twitter account for “NBA All-World” put out a call for early reviews, and users’ reactions were mixed. Some players complained about glitches during live competitions, but many said they’re enjoying it for the most part so far.

“NBA All-World” represents Niantic’s first “officially licensed sports title,” NBA.com reported.