Niantic is shutting down its AR Catan game after a year of early access

Pokémon Go developer Niantic is shutting down its augmented reality game Catan: World Explorers, the company announced on Friday (via Protocol). An AR adaptation of the popular board game Catan announced in 2019, World Explorers was the company’s latest attempt to recreate the magic of Pokémon Go, but soon it’s all coming to an end.

After a year of early access, the game will not be playable after November 18th and Niantic says later today it “will be taking the game down from the App Store and removing real-money purchases from the Shop.” For the players that stick around, the company says it will increase in-game bonuses for the remaining weeks the game is live.

It’s not entirely clear what’s to blame for the shutdown, though the developers says that adapting the trading, harvesting, and building Catan is known for on a real-life (or at least AR layered on top of real-life) game board proved to be a challenge. “We got a little too complicated and a little too far from the original Catan game,” the developers write.

Catan: World Explorers joins Minecraft Earth as another AR game that it couldn’t quite cut it. Microsoft’s vision for Minecraft Earth was similarly ambitious until it was brought to an end on June 30th. It’s too bad Niantic’s big swing failed because its other entries have proved to be disappointing in our experience. At launch, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite felt more like a skin of Pokémon Go than a meaningful evolution. There’s no reason why Pokémon should be the exclusive breakthrough hit for AR gaming, but until Niantic or another company can make it work, it seems like Pikachu will remain king.