Franchises left and right are releasing Pokémon Go-style augmented reality games, and Google is making it even easier to churn out the apps.
Announced today via a company blog post, the Google Maps API now enables developers to build their own location-based games using Maps data.
The Google Maps API integrates with Unity, where developers can access landmarks such as buildings and roads as GameObjects and add their own textures to overlay their virtual game environments. More than 100 million points of interest from more than 200 countries worldwide are available to build these digital playgrounds.
"With Google Maps data integrated into Unity, we were able to focus our time and energy on building detailed virtual experiences for our users to find virtual dinosaurs in the real world," said Alexandre Thabet, CEO of Ludia, the developer behind the recently-announced Jurassic World Alive game.
In addition to Ludia, Google already has developers of high-profile projects using the new API alongside ARCore. Next Games is preparing The Walking Dead: Our World for release, and FourThirtyThree, Inc. is using the Google Maps API for the upcoming Ghostbusters World game.
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"Building game interactions around real-world places at global scale and finding places that are relevant to users and fun to play is challenging," said Han Sung Gin, the CEO of FourThirtyThree. "Google Maps APIs helped us incorporate the real-world, user relevant locations into our game. Users from all over the world can experience the Ghostbusters virtual world through our game, leveraging Google's location data."
Companies like Mapbox and Motive.IO also supply location services for developers of AR apps. However, it appears that Google Maps could be the catalyst to getting big name brands on board the location-based AR gaming train.
Also, it's quite fitting that Google is making a move to be a fixture in location-based gaming. Remember, technically, the company pioneered the genre with Google subsidiary Niantic and its Ingress game (the venture was later spun off and launched Pokémon GO).
Google will demo its wares at the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco next week.