Google Makes Maps Available for Developers to Create the Next Pokemon Go

March 21, 2018 - 3 minutes read

Are you an augmented reality (AR) developer? Well, I’ve got some great news for you — popular game development platform Unity now has access to Google Maps. This move is aimed to foster the next Pokemon Go, so if you have any unique ideas, it’s never been a better time to start!

The announcement follows closely behind Google’s launch of ARCore, the AR platform for mobile developers, earlier this year. ARCore, built for most big-name Android phones, is expected to fulfill Android’s need for an AR development platform, as Apple’s ARKit is already on version 1.5.

A Deeper Connection to the Real World

Google’s newest APIs turn buildings, parks, and streets into “GameObjects”. More than 100 million of these GameObjects are available across 200 countries, allowing game developers to add textures, unique styles, and other customizations.

Clementine Jacoby is a product manager for Google Maps APIs. Jacoby says that the intention all along was to aid developers in building detailed game worlds with Maps data as a starting point. “In this way, you can create unique game environments that still feel connected to the real world,” says Patrick Donelan, who is the lead engineer on the project.

The possibility of unique, real-world games springing from this collaboration with Unity is very high; games are expected to look and behave naturally since the objects within the games are taken from the user’s own environment. Developers can even include points of interest in the real-world location.

Unlike Pokemon Go’s simplistic AR objects and field, the Maps API pushes AR further. With further additions of streets, parks, buildings, objects like mailboxes and more, the games coming out of Unity’s platform will bring a new level of sophistication with them. Google showed off this technology with a live demonstration of sci-fi worlds and fantastical creatures, like dragons.

A New Era of Gaming

“Our new Unity [software development kit] does all of the heavy lifting,” says Jacoby. “No Google Maps expertise needed. Game studios can easily reimagine our world as a medieval fantasy, a bubble gum candy land, or a zombie-infested post-apocalyptic city,” she explains.

“With Google Maps’ real-time updates and rich location data, developers can find the best places for playing games, no matter where their players are. Building on top of Google Maps’ global infrastructure means faster response times, the ability to scale on demand, and peace of mind knowing that your game will just work.”

Google’s already signed deals with a few game companies to develop Jurassic World AliveThe Walking Dead: Our World, and Ghostbusters World. We’re excited by the idea of developing with these new tools and going for a stroll around Los Angeles to test our work! We also can’t wait to see the innovations that developers around the world come up with. Game on!

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