What kind of influence will Apple’s ARKit have on gaming?

Ever since Pokémon Go took the world by storm last year, the potential of augmented reality for the gaming world has become clear. The mobile game which involved catching the pocket monsters while out and about in the real world was played by over 100 million people and generated more than $268 million in revenue. These whopping figures highlighted the market for AR, and have led to other developers to experiment with the new technology. It should come as no surprise, then, that mobile industry leaders Apple are getting in on the act as well, with the ARKit.

Apple has frequently been at the forefront of developments in technology, as it has shown with devices like the iPod, Apple Watch, and the iPad. Now, the company has begun its first foray into AR. The ARKit is available with iOS 11, as a new framework that allows users to create augmented reality experiences for iPhone and iPad. The Apple mobile devices are some of the most popular in the world, with over 250 million units of the iPad and the iPhone combined sold in 2016, according to Apple. Research from AdMob has found that over 62% of smartphone users install games within a week of getting their phones, which once again underlines just how massive this mobile gaming market is.

This means that mobile game developers can now start producing quality AR content for the Apple devices, which could spell some huge enhancements in key mobile gaming genres. The most popular game genres for mobile according to Verto Analytics are brain puzzles and matching puzzles, which have 37.8 million and 29.9 million monthly unique users respectively. Action and strategy games, slot games, and building simulators are also up there among the most popular types of games. All of these game genres have the potential to be made even better with the use of augmented reality.

Addictive puzzles have become such a widely seen type of mobile game thanks to the success of games like Candy Crush Saga. The matching symbols game from King was released in 2012, and since then has gone on to make over $569 million worldwide. This has led to numerous games replicating the concept, such as Gardenscapes and Jewel Mania. None of these have been as successful as Candy Crush, which tends to be the case when developers jump on the popularity of something else. But there is a gap in the market for the next game like this for the augmented reality era. And it would be wise to assume that the first company to make a quality puzzle game for the new format will reap the rewards.

Slot games would be suitable for an AR makeover as well. It could be argued that the reel spinning gambling games have evolved more than any other game offering since their inception. After all, they used to be clunky hand-operated machines in the late 1800s, and are now hi-tech internet offerings with music, cut scenes, and side features. Slot games have become well-suited to the pick-up-and-play style of mobile games, and there are now so many iPad slot games that there are also review sites dedicated to them. Slots seem always ready to adapt to new upgrades in technology, and developers are already experimenting with ideas in AR and VR. Developer NetEnt, for instance, has a game called Gonzo’s Quest VR. AR slots could work in a similar way, and could even perhaps provide players with virtual hand-operated slot machines. There are certainly many possibilities.

Although all the above games could be great with augmented reality updates, the new technology looks perfect for role playing adventure games and building games. One of the latest titles for fans of the former, which looks like it could be a major hit is The Walking Dead: Our World. We have already seen popular video game adaptations of the AMC series, including an episodic series by Telltale Games. In the upcoming AR app, players will be able to go about their everyday lives, and at the same time experience the same fear as their favorite characters such as Rick, Darryl, and Michonne. Like Pokémon Go, players will be able to hold their mobiles up to look around, and spot zombies which they then have to kill. They can collect weapons and pose for photos with the well-known protagonists of the show as well.

AR in Pokemon Go.

Building and design games will definitely be enhanced with AR, as players will be able to move things around and visualise everything in 3D rather than only on their mobile screens. Some of the top games at the moment include Virtual City Playground, which allows players to build the cities of their dreams with few limitations. Developing these towns is already highly enjoyable, but being able to see your sprawling city on the table in front of you in your living room would surely take the experience to the next level.

After the immense success of Pokémon Go last year, augmented reality games were bound to start cropping up everywhere. But now that Apple is releasing an AR update for its massive customer base, developers are surely going to step up their games and push content out at a faster rate. These are exciting times, and AR is doubtlessly going to enhance the mobile games that we know and love.

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