In brief: Niantic is launching their Beyond Reality Developer Contest in the hopes of discovering new talent to help work with them to create the games of the future. The infamous Pokémon Go creator will give the top ten applicants $50,000 and three months to create a new, “geospatial” augmented reality title, with $300,000 in cash for the winners.
The aim of the game is to create something new and exciting that can take advantage of Niantic’s “Real World Platform” engine, meaning the game must utilize the real-world multiplayer style of Niantic’s smash hit Pokémon Go. While the focus of the competition is obviously on gaming, Niantic is interested in developers who can expand the genre into areas such as social platforming, travel, physical activity and even shopping. “We encourage you to think boldly!”
To apply, teams of at least five need to create a short film as a pitch, in addition to a ten-page proposal. Teams will be selected based on the creativity, experience, and the estimated likelihood of them succeeding in creating a game. From May 1 to August 9 the contestants will work with Niantic developers on their games. It’s a tight schedule though because the games must have a playable demo by the end of the three-month period.
On August 23 all the competitors get flown out to San Francisco where they attend a “demo day” that lets the press and the judges play the games and speak to the contestants.
On September 6 the final winners are announced. While Niantic isn’t promising to pick up the winners, they do have a “right of first offer” included in the fine print, and it’s implied that the winners would have a good chance of getting hired. According to the competition rules, contestants own everything they create but Niantic reserves the right to distribute it.
While the development process isn’t exactly American Idol, it’s not too far from it. Once a month Niantic experts will do televised check-ins where they play as much as the game as they can and provide feedback. “We invite you to adventure along with us and create something that the world has never seen before. If you’re as excited as we are, take the first step by applying through our contest site. We can’t wait to see what you’ll build.” Applications close February 17.