So it has just been announced… Niantic’s attempt to bring Catan to augmented reality, Catan — World Explorers will be shutting down later this year.

This news doesn’t really come as a surprise to anyone who was following the game. Development had been silent for awhile, but it’s still disappointing.

You can read the official announcement over on the CATAN — World Explorers community forum here.

The game will be sunsetting on November 18th, 2021, 7AM UTC time. It will be taken down from the App Stores, and any real-money purchases removed from the shop.

For the final few seasons/weeks until the game is shutdown, the developers will be increasing bonuses in-game to give the players one last hurrah.

Any players with remaining unused Gold in World Explorers will also have the option to transfer it to Pokémon GO.

For those that remember, I’ve covered CATAN – World Explorers previously on my site, and it easily became my new favourite AR game.

YouTube Review

It’s really a shame that World Explorers is getting shut down before it ever truly has a chance to shine.

The game had a pretty unique and fresh take on the augmented reality/geolocation formula.

It did a good job setting itself apart from Pokémon GO, which is something other Niantic (and AR games in general) fail to do.

Was the idea of turning Catan into a geolocation title a bit niche? Sure, but the game had amazing potential.

It also had features such as setting up your own personal base (gym), which is something that should be added and explored in Pokémon GO.

The basic gameplay loop was also a breath of fresh air, focusing more on crafting and collecting than battling.

Although there isn’t any official reason for the game being sunset, the developers did state:

The team originally set out to build a game that turned the world into a CATAN gameboard. We had a vision for trading, harvesting, and building up the world in seasonal play and resetting the board each month, just like you do for each new game you play at home. But trying to adapt such a well-designed board game to a global, location-based Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game was a tough challenge. We’re so proud of the game we made, however we got a little too complicated and a little too far from the original CATAN game. 


Personally, I think COVID probably played a huge part in the cancellation of Catan — World Explorers.

Unlike Niantic’s other games, World Explorers required you to actually walk around, and interact more so than their other titles.

The game also went into beta at a terrible time. It launched right into the start of the pandemic.

World Explorers also wouldn’t be the only AR title struggling with the pandemic. For example, Minecraft Earth also sunset earlier this year.

Statement for Minecraft Earth Shutting Down

As you can read in my previous articles, I actually thought they did a great job at converting the Catan experience into an augmented reality game.

With that being said, I played early on in testing – and didn’t experience the later updates.

This has me worried about Niantic’s future, underperforming titles. Apparently they also have up to a dozen or so games in development.

I’d rather a company try to stick it out, rather than drop support as soon as possible and move on to the next project.

If you want to stay up to date with all things Hexdro, check me out on Twitter!

Goodbye Catan – World Explorers. You’ll truly be missed. The game had amazing potential, and it was one of my favourite AR gaming experiences.

By Camellia Hao Ren

Camellia Hao Ren is an Australian journalist and editor. When they aren't writing, they are usually playing games or reading.

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