The untapped potential of Augmented Reality in gaming
Game industry is permanently expanding it’s reach. You just can’t ignore it’s presence, even if you don’t play the games: in-game concerts and fashion collaborations, brand integrations and world tournaments. Shampoo bottles with your son’s favorite MOBA characters, merchandise and even books about the game you’ve never heard of — potentially, sold almost 5m copies. We can go on and on, but the question that bothers us the most — where are these sweet AR integrations?
It is the time of big AR expansion, too, and gaming should be in vanguard the one industry that knows how to leverage all the possibilities (and profit) AR can give it. So what exactly Augmented Reality can give gaming industry? And how should it be used then?
The current place of AR in gaming
But let’s get the full picture first. Augmented reality has earned its deserved place as a perfect technology for specific kind of games. If you’re looking for gamification of your usual environment — AR is a way to go. Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park, Pokemons — any fantasy world that takes place in our home cities can be brought straight to the streets. Open world, your hometown and favorite heroes/ villains right beside you is a dream coming true! This simple and straightforward approach, however, heavily anchored in our minds as successful due to somehow popular yet primitive franchise mobile games mentioned above. Fan service — such as dedicated mobile games or any other merchandise — is always the result of completed purchase of the original product.
But there are other companies, who experiment with AR as a standalone product. For example, Angry Birds franchise continue their notorious mobile blockbuster story with Augmented Reality game. Now that’s a perfect match of a technology, script and evolution of the game. It’s still a risky move, as the game barely received any attention from media and critics. But that’s a theme for another research. Another line of perfect fit is Minecraft World. Yes, building classical Minecraft dirt houses in real life is cool and, to be truthful, satisfying. Both of these games can live and prosper as product without their predecessors. On the other hand, it gives nothing to the original title, as integration between them is minimal.
We see the number of fan service games, but also independent products that look more like the evolution of the original game. We think, the perfect solution in this case is something in between fan service and new original game — a supportive gaming content with benefits for all.
How to make Augmented Reality a vital part in the world of your game?
Now, why there are so many movie AR games, but as many AR games based on GAME franchises? Our answer is — it’s just not tested fully yet. Some studios, such as Ubisoft and Blizzard, are trying out mobile apps and games to enhance overall gaming experience. For example, World of Warcraft mobile app grants access to in-game maps and minor missions, that can be completed via smartphone. This way Blizzard keeps the connection with the player base and saves their in-game time for other quests. So what does AR have to offer?
- Mobile companions. Player base fell in love with supporting character? Bring them to live as a wall-breaking buddy, who shares news, promos and alerts about expiring in-game offers! It’s not new to use NPC’s as a selling point in promo campaigns, but AR gives them a new breath as a living being beside you.
- Themed arcades. Today, game worlds are detailed with the smallest things, such as in-game brands and companies. Some of these world does even have games inside the game — such as R&D Lab in Borderlands 3 or the full spectrum of computer games in Sims 3. They’re simple enough to be adjusted to mobile! Or just make your own AR Candy Crush-like based on your in-game universe and throw a bunch of achievements and extras into it — people love those!
- World exploration. Your game takes place in a real city or based on historical events? Your AR app may be the perfect guide for players to discover new places and facts, and also be rewarded for it! If there’s something that Pokemon Go taught us, is that players are ready to literally walk their way to victory. So don’t be afraid to make your AR game based on location overseas!
These are just a few examples of how your game can benefit from Augmented Reality. What will it be for you? An update companion or exploration guide? Any way you want it, AR can be the one missing link between the real and digital world that can make gaming experience even more immersive — and profitable, too.