Niantic’s revolutionary Pokémon Go took the world by storm when it was launched in July 2016. The Pokémon Go game takes place in a world populated by exotic and powerful characters – they can look like rats, dragons, snakes, dinosaurs and birds. The app developers of the game showed what Augmented Reality is capable of. Who knew Augmented Reality could become so exciting? Augmented Reality simply means that the game or mobile app augments reality into its functioning, which means that you can rely on the real life to play an augmented reality game or use an AR mobile app.
With its initial launch in US, Australia, and New Zealand, it has brought a storm among the Augmented Reality gaming app developers. There are several mobile apps available in the market, although they are not quite as nostalgic as Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go mobile app is created with Unity 3D game development engine. Unity enables game app developers to create massive multi-player online games. Game development process depends heavily on the game concept – the complexity, platform choice, graphics, which can make a mobile app cost you $50,000 at the very least.
History of gaming apps
Of course, there were mobile games before Snake, but the true origin of mobile gaming can be traced back to a Nokia handset released in 1997. The old-school classic Snake pre-loaded on the Nokia 6110 was a masterstroke because it sparked the beginning of a new era. Today we have some high-resolution graphics on our mobile devices, but Snake was nothing more but few black pixels moving on few green pixels. In early 2003 Nokia decided to change the phone game with the announcement of the N-Gage – a mobile phone, which was also a handheld game system. Since then, there have been several other steps taken in the direction of development of mobile gaming.
How AR changed the gaming landscape?
The Gaming Industry gets bigger and bigger every year and it shows no signs of slowing down. Continual innovations in software mean that games keep getting more entertaining and more immersive. In recent years, it has branched out into various new types of entertainment, which primarily includes Augmented Realities.
Pokémon Go is a very good example of this. Pokémon Go uses augmented reality, an innovative technology that adds virtual elements to the physical environment around you via a smartphone device. The concept of catching creatures, collecting, battling and trading them – has made it the most successful game series of all times. What’s best about Augmented Reality is that this technology allows games to be played anywhere, with any backdrop and the experience will always be different. AR games can allow you to fight aliens, capture fantastical creatures, and defend kingdoms in the real world. All this is possible without super expensive headsets – just an AR-enabled smartphone is sufficient.
What is Pokémon Go all about?
Pokémon Go taps on Augmented Reality and geocaching to give a new twist to mobile gaming. Pokémon Go as the name suggests, it takes the Pokémon characters and places them in the real world so that you can catch, hatch and evolve them on the go. Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based Augmented Reality AR game developed by Niantic Labs built for both Android and iOS devices. It isn’t the first game in the popular Pokémon series – though the original Pokémon was an RPG Role Playing Game developed for GameBoy in 1996. This popular Augmented Reality gaming mobile app uses GPS and camera of compatible devices, using which players can battle, capture, and train virtual creatures called as Pokémon.
A new Gaming Frontier: Augmented Reality
Pokémon Go relies on AR to bring these creatures to life. AR is quite different from Virtual Reality or VR, in which user is transported to another world and is expected to play within that realm. Examples of VR gaming handsets are Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Sony’s upcoming PlayStation VR headset. In AR, images generated from a computer are projected on to real-life objects allowing players to interact with them. Microsoft’s Hololens is one of the most ambitious examples of AR. Nokia’s Lumia smartphone has an AR powered the mobile app called City Lens in 2012, where the user could point the camera at the marketplace, and the mobile app would reflect information about it. The Google Goggles mobile app also offers something similar. There are similar concepts in other mobile apps as well – but Pokémon Go is, without a doubt, the first time AR had such mass appeal.
Pokémon Go uses your device’s GPS to track your location and search for new Pokémon and then uses the smartphone’s camera to virtually superimpose them over the surroundings. The game switches on the camera, and the player will see the Pokémon appear right in front of them, almost as if it were a part of the real world.
What is the future of Augmented Reality?
In 2011-12 most of the smartphones did not have great cameras or processing capabilities to run AR powered mobile apps smoothly. But in 2017 even the lower end smartphones can handle games with heavy graphics and with constant 4G connectivity. It is said that AR mobile apps and games will have more mass appeal. While Pokémon Go is not the world’s first augmented reality game – the title belongs to the 2013 game Ingress, it is the first game of its kind to be adopted in this scale.
Augmented Reality is better designed for real world applications but the technology is being used to build the next evolution of games, just like Pokémon Go. As more and more people are becoming aware, other game developers are utilizing augmented reality to make games that are technologically advanced and engaging for the generation. Apart from action, adventure and crime games, HoloLens is also useful for the casual games such as popular online casino titles. Essentially, the future of AR depends on its ability to accomplish things that other mediums simply cannot.
Beyond Pokémon Go, Augmented Reality is set to transform gaming
It brings the playfulness of the video game characters into the real world. While augmented reality has been around for a while, recent developments in mobile internet connectivity and smartphone processor speeds have made games like Pokémon Go more viable over the last two years. All technologies need a ‘killer mobile app” to launch it into the gaming stratosphere and AR has found one. Augmented Reality being a more sophisticated cousin of Virtual Reality, has perhaps more mass adoption.
Temple Treasure Hunt is a geo-location AR game for mysteries and myth lovers. Have you ever dreamed of being at the heart of the world of criminal rules? Parallel Mafia is an AR game which turns your area into a crime ridden world with Mafias taking control. The Pokémon Company is making $1.6 million per day from the US iOS store alone, all from a game that is superficially free-to-play with around 21 million active users. After all, with this statistics – you will definitely want to download some of these fantastic augmented reality games immediately to start playing.
Augmented reality games tap into technology to enhance the world around you – for example putting Abra (Pokémon Go character) on your toilet. Why would someone want this? Well, everyday living can get boring. So why not spice it up with some Pokémon characters. Similar Augmented Reality based gaming or AR games with other concepts can be developed that have great engagement potential. It is perhaps the biggest augmented reality game to date. But it wasn’t the first and would not be the last. Only one thing seems certain – the future of mobile gaming is one very, very exciting prospect.
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