Capcom’s Monster Hunter will be the next hit series to get the Niantic treatment, with location-based game Monster Hunter Now coming to mobile later this year.
The game is being developed and published by Niantic and is scheduled for release on the iOS App Store and Google Play in September. Registrations for the beta test, which begins on Tuesday, April 25th, are now open.
Monster Hunter Now builds on the formula of previous Niantic titles like Pokémon Go, with the series’ monsters being placed in the real world via the in-game map. During a press conference, Niantic’s Chief Product Officer Kei Kawai said that Monster Hunter “fits perfectly natural” with the company’s playstyle.
“The series is all about gathering with friends, playing as a family and making new friends. That’s been a really important piece of intellectual property for almost two decades now, with the new real-world game.”
Monster Hunter Series Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto added, “We are very excited to partner with Niantic, who have the best AR technology in the world, to bring you an all-new Monster Hunter game. I remember when Niantic told me about this project, I immediately said, ‘Let’s do it’ without even thinking about it.”
Monster Hunter Now
The game has been in development for almost four years after Niantic visited Capcom in March 2019, where it proposed the idea of developing a Monster Hunter game together.
Niantic has taken steps to try to make the new title stand out from Pokémon Go; For example, while players can still fight beasts in AR mode – causing their opponent to overlay their real-world environment – the map has also been split into different ecological zones that set the backdrop when you’re not using AR mode.
Players can also use a new paintball item to mark a monster they encounter and fight it later from the comfort of their own home. Players’ Palico companion can also be set to paintball any monsters they pass, giving them more enemies to fight at home.
As with the Monster Hunter series, multiplayer is the focus, with Niantic hoping players will join forces with everyone else in the area as they defeat monsters.
The game is designed to be as accessible as possible with “tap and swipe” combat controls instead of virtual buttons.
There will be in-game purchases, but these will be detailed at a later date.
While Pokémon Go is still going strong, Niantic shut down the similar Harry Potter: Wizards Unite last year. Despite the young wizard’s franchise’s continued popularity, the game has struggled to gain the same traction as Pokémon Go. For example, it made $1.7 million less than the Critter Catcher on day one and was shut down after just two years.
Niantic also abandoned the soft-launch Catan: World Explorers, reportedly scrapping four projects over the past year and laying off up to 90 employees.
CD Projekt was one of many studios also trying to get into the action with The Witcher: Monster Slayer, which also closed. With so many titles struggling to keep up with Pokémon Go, GamesIndustry.biz asked what Niantic and Capcom are expecting from Monster Hunter Now.
“Games are a hit-driven business…I firmly believe we have a hit on our hands.”
Kei Kawai, Niantic
“Games are a hit-driven business,” Kawai told us during the press conference’s Q&A session. “I don’t want to speculate on how big that will be. What we focus on and what we can control is making a fun game with Capcom’s great talent and great hitmakers.
“I have a strong belief that we have a hit, that the world is going to like that and have fun, so that’s what we’re going to focus on.” And we want this game to last a very long time.”
While Monster Hunter may not be on the scale of Pokémon or Harry Potter, the franchise has been propelled to new heights of popularity in recent years. Historically a big hit in Japan, it was 2018’s Monster Hunter World and 2021’s Monster Hunter Rise that finally cracked the west.
As it stands today, Monster Hunter is the second-biggest series in Capcom history at 90 million units, beaten only by Resident Evil’s 135 million. Monster Hunter World remains the publisher’s best-selling game of all time with 18.6 million units, followed by Rise with 11.7 million.
This gives Niantic confidence that Monster Hunter Now will have strong international appeal, and Kawai told GamesIndustry.biz: “The Monster Hunter series has been around for a long time – this is its nineteenth year – and the latest success from World and Rise was too. The title became a big hit in Japan and the world is playing too.
“I’m really excited that people around the world are discovering the game and more players playing it because it gives us and this Monster Hunter Now a chance to be successful around the world.”