Google announced ARCore some time ago now. Essentially a better version of Tango, it makes use of motion tracking, light estimations, and environmental understanding to bring about the most convincing augmented reality ever seen through a smartphone. Basically, it’s Android’s mirror image of Apple’s now-famous ARKit, and it’s going to birth all kinds of fun mobile experiences.
Recently we saw the release of the first ARCore app, a program called Atom Visualizer that lets you visualize atoms in augmented reality. It’s a cool example of what AR can do, and it’s promising specifically with regard to the potential for education through augmented reality. But it’s probably also a poor approximation of the types of experiences that will really generate attention once ARCore developers find their stride.
To get a better idea of those experiences, we can look to Apple and iOS 11, which has come packaged with ARKit and which is already hosting a lot of new apps. Between those apps and some general trends in gaming, we can begin to guess at the types of games we might expect from ARCore once it really gets rolling.
One category to keep an eye out for is that of architectural and geometrical puzzles. These games have been very successful on mobile platforms, and blowing them up in 3D projections through AR makes them even more interesting. Euclidean Lands is one existing game in this genre that’s already made the transition to AR, and done so successfully. A list of some of the cool apps that have appeared early on ARKit specifically noted that a puzzle game about changing perspectives seems perfectly suited for ARKit. We’d agree and say that there will almost certainly be similar options available for Android devices via ARCore. This could mean some direct adaptations like Euclidean Lands, or entirely original experiences built for the new medium.
Bar and casino games are also likely to find success. A pool game has already emerged on ARKit, and things like slot machines, roulette wheels, and card tables are likely to be right around the corner. Virtual reality has already emerged as the next frontier for these types of games, as developers work to provide gaming without distractions from the outside world, but AR may actually the bet more natural fit. Using ARCore to project things like poker tables and roulette wheels seems relatively straightforward for modern developers, and when you also consider the huge numbers of consumers who like to play these kinds of games, the category appears to have a lot of potential.
Finally, sports games too will likely emerge through ARCore. This is an area in which there actually aren’t many examples yet, save one simple (and frankly, cheap) basketball app on ARKit. In that game you can place a miniature goal on a surface and take shots at it. But given how we’re seeing AR used to place courses and layouts on real world surfaces it’s not at all hard to imagine fields of play: for football, soccer, basketball, etc. These will be point-and-click and swipe-based games, likely with cartoon characters in the roles of athletes playing games as if they’re miniature people who have entered our homes and taken up competition on our tables and floors.
This is going to be a very exciting time for Android gamers. Ultimately, the above examples represent just a few of the possibilities.