Niantic, the developer behind the popular augmented reality (AR) game Pokemon Go, has joined hands with payments company Fold to launch an AR experience where players can earn Bitcoin in a virtual environment that the company describes as a “real world metaverse.” The feature is currently available for Fold App users to play in beta, enabling them to earn Bitcoin and in-app benefits by exploring their physical surroundings. Niantic is working on expanding this experience, buoyed by Coatue’s most recent $300 million (roughly Rs. 2,234.7 crore) 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 [Fold] 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.”
Instead of finding rare creatures in the world around you, 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 is dropped in the vicinity of a player. Once a block is claimed, the user earns Satoshis, a kind of cryptocurrency, alongside other in-app rewards. There is an element of luck involved here though as you could lose your Bitcoin winnings if, for example, you come across a ‘poison pill’.
Those interested in giving the feature a spin doesn’t have to own a Fold card to play the game, although cardholders will be granted additional boosts and prizes. Once the game has been fully released, customers will also be able to hide and trade Bitcoin.
The Pokémon Go developer’s vision for the metaverse is quite different from the one Facebook aka Meta is promoting, which aims at connecting users in VR. Niantic’s founder and CEO John Hanke actually published a blog post earlier this year saying this approach relies on virtual reality, popularised by Ready Player One, is a “dystopian nightmare.”
Niantic’s vision involves creating an “ever-evolving AR map of the world” to “make the real world come alive with information and interactivity,” Hanke said at the time. The funding from Coatue will aim at expanding the Lightship ARDK, Niantic’s augmented technology that it started licensing to other developers earlier this month.