Bad news for fans of the robots in disguise, the Transformers: Heavy Metal AR game from Pokémon Go creators Niantic has been shelved. Niantic Chief Executive Officer John Hanke wrote to the staff of the company and explained that Niantic was “facing a time of economic turmoil” and was “reducing costs in a variety of areas.”
A second title, Hamlet, a collaboration between Niantic and theatrical company Punchdrunk was also cancelled, as were two unannounced games which went by the codenames Blue Sky and Snowball. Around ninety staff will also be cut.
Transformers: Heavy Metal would have found players joining the Guardian Network, a team of humans who work with the Autobots to fight the Decepticons in turn based AR battles. The game was being created by Very Very Spaceship from Seattle and will use Lightship, Niantic’s planet-scale AR platform which has real time social features and 3D mapping.
“Transformers is a global, beloved entertainment franchise that’s fun, a bit irreverent, and has a message that lines up with Niantic’s values, that of ‘Save the Earth, Save Humanity’,” said executive producer Phil Hong in an interview with Venturebeat in 2021.
The last time we saw a Transformers game was in October 2020 when Transformers: Battlegrounds was release for consoles and PC. “Transformers Battlegrounds is a great entry point into turn-based strategy game for younger Transformers fans, and even older fans looking for a more relaxed XCOM-style experience,” said Nick in our 8/10 review.
A VR title, Transformers Beyond Reality was meant to launch in March for PSVR and Steam but has been delayed and no longer has a release date.
Niantic have had a hard time following up their hit game Pokémon Go with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite shutting down earlier this year after failing to find an audience.