Apple’s long-awaited iOS 11 has been out for a couple weeks now, and that means users everywhere have had the chance to download and familiarize themselves with it. Included in the new operating system is ARKit compatibility. This is basically a behind-the-scenes program that exists to help developers make augmented reality apps. Think Pokémon GO, but with more sophisticated designs and more convincing effects.
The phones were already capable of combing camera and screen usage to bring about AR. But with iOS 11 the development became much easier, and there are now entire categories of AR apps emerging for Apple devices.
We’ve now seen iOS 11 and some of the early effects of ARKit. There are a few pretty exciting augmented reality games already, and more importantly, the apps that are already out can help us to better imagine what might be around the corner. Therefore, it feels like the right time to speculate a little bit about which games will drive this new and exciting medium.
Arena Strategy & Combat
Projecting large characters, settings, and events is still a little bit awkward in AR. But projecting small ones is a lot of fun, and can definitely add a new dimension to a game (quite literally). Before iOS 11 even came out, we learned that a game called Gladiator Heroes – which already existed on mobile platforms – would be among the first to add AR features.
The game now makes it look as if a sort of arena has appeared on whatever surface you’re using, and you can control gladiators fighting in 3D on that surface. It’s a very cool early example of a concept that could envelop a lot of games moving forward. From tower defense to tabletop strategy, to RPGs and fighting games, there are a lot of titles that could work like this.
This is perhaps the busiest category in AR gaming right off the bat. Some puzzles (such as Stack AR) involve an element of action, as you control moving pieces and try to maintain a creation as long as possible. Others are more about geometry and the gradual manipulation of environments. This genre will go as far as developers’ creativity stretches, and may ultimately the deepest and most versatile space in mobile-based AR gaming.
Where can you take technology now that it fits in your pocket? This was a question that was actually posted in an article about virtual reality as the future of casino gaming. It’s a form of gaming that’s always striving for new and realistic qualities, and AR fits in naturally with that ongoing effort.
With AR as it now exists, we can imagine the projection of poker and blackjack tables, slot machines, roulette wheels, and more. In fact, we can even envision small, full casinos appearing on surfaces, such that players could explore them and then zoom in particular games they’re interested in.
Almost a decade ago the idea of augmented reality shooters emerged, and people tried early versions of the games on their smartphones. It was in 2009 that just such a game by the company Shadowforce was referred to as a very early indicator of how AR might revolutionize gameplay.
That certainly seems prophetic today. This isn’t a genre that’s burst out of the gate, but it seems inevitable that numerous titles will emerge throwing different characters into our environments for us to shoot down just by pointing our phones and “shooting.”
There will be additional genres that make it in AR, and some are already starting to trickle out. But based on the early apps we’re seeing in iOS 11, these look to be the ones that will get out in front.