Just a few years ago, tech evangelists were hailing Niantic Inc., the maker of the hit game Pokemon Go, as proof of the metaverse’s vast and growing business potential. But now, following the lackluster debut of yet another augmented-reality game, Niantic is looking like something else — more evidence of the metaverse’s vast and growing business woes.

On May 9, the San Francisco-based, closely held software-maker launched Peridot, a free, pet-simulator game for mobile phones that aims to blend the digital and physical worlds into what the company has called the "real-world metaverse.” After downloading the Peridot app, players hatch a unique Dot and give their new digital pet a name. Using the phone’s camera lens, the game then superimposes one’s pet on whatever real-world vista the user points their phone at, say, a patch of grass in their backyard. From there, the Dot can run through the phone’s view of the yard, chasing tennis balls, digging up treats and interacting with the objects around them as they gain capabilities and grow.

Despite much furball cuteness and some captivating visuals, the game has so far landed with a whimper. After one week, amid a slew of negative app-store reviews, Peridot has generated 675,000 downloads from its May 9 launch through May 13, according to data from researcher Sensor Tower. Some reviewers have complained that its augmented reality is inconsistent and quickly drains the battery life from phones. Others have criticized the game’s monetization strategy around breeding Dots. The game has a 3 out of 5 rating on Google’s Play Store.