7 Best Augmented Reality Games For Your Smartphone Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology enriching the real world with digital information and media, such as 3D models and videos. This digital information is over layered in real-time onto the camera view of your smartphone, tablet, PC or connected glasses. Augmented reality (AR) imposes digital content onto a live camera feed, making the computerized content appear as a part of the real life world around you. Simply explained, it is a halfway point between the real world and virtual world. In AR simulations, the real world is infused with virtual objects, and provides an interactive experience.
It can also be known as ‘mixed reality’, as it mixes the computer-generated imagery and experiences into our reality.
AR can capture people’s attention for over 85 seconds, increase interaction rates by 20 percent, and improve click-through rates to purchase by 33 percent.
This content can be manipulated to make you look completely different or you can even have AR models try out different clothes or shoe brands for you before you purchase the articles online. Augmented reality can let you see how furniture would look in your living room, what colors would suit your walls best or play a digital board game on a cereal box. For AR to work it must understand what is located where in the world before adding relevant digital content at the right place and right time. These very real examples require understanding the physical world from the camera feed, i.e. the AR system. This is achieved using computer vision, which is what differentiates AR from VR, where users get transported into completely digital worlds.
Google’s experiment with augmented reality was released to the public as Google Glass in May 2014, which were a pair of glasses that includes a detailed HUD – heads up display, which vaguely resembled a hands-free smartphone. Unfortunately it was discontinued in 2015 as the Glass failed. The inventors did not clearly define its value and assumed the product would sell itself even at a high price tag of $1500, without real solutions or value, a clunky design and worries about privacy.
Computer Vision, or CV, is an interdisciplinary scientific field of study that seeks to develop techniques to help computers “see” and understand the content of digital images such as photographs and videos. It also seeks to understand and automate tasks that the human eyes can do, and then provide appropriate output. In reality though, it is a difficult task to enable computers to recognize images of different objects.
Computer vision looks at what is in the world around the user from the perspective of a camera feed and translates it back to the digital system. It doesn’t only “see”, but also processes what it is looking at and provides useful results based on the observation. A real life application would be a computer creating a 3D image from a 2D image, to provide important data to the car and/or driver that helps in safe driving. Cars could be fitted with computer vision to identify and distinguish objects on and around the road such as traffic lights, pedestrians, traffic signs and so on, and act accordingly. The intelligent device would provide the driver inputs, and even engage the brakes if there is a sudden obstacle on the road.
This is similar to when someone suddenly moves into the path of a car: the human driver sees this, reacts instantly and stops or swerves in split seconds, identifying the object, processing data and deciding what to do. Computer vision’s aim is to enable computers to perform the same kind of tasks as efficiently as humans. AR can take you from aliens to zombies and from skiing to jumping off a plane (with or without a parachute) in minutes. Best of all, users get to enjoy all the simulations with just their digital devices.
With the basic jargon out of the way, let’s take our first example of the best augmented reality games for your smartphone. In many augmented reality experiences, the user’s GPS is used to create a more realistic approach to gaming, allowing for the seamless transition between real-world scenarios and technological ones.
Best augmented reality games
Pokémon Go can be called the forerunner of all AR games and its extreme popularity in augmented reality games for iOS and Android is unmatched. When it was released in 2016, no one could have gauged the popularity of a game that uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect where you are and your position in the game and make Pokémon “appear” around you (on your phone screen). The goal of the game was to catch all the Pokemon, and evolve and raise their strength levels. It starts simply – with finding low-level Pokémon around your neighborhood, then complexity grows, with cities and major hubs of civilization being the most desirable areas to capture rare Pokémon.
Of course with some Pokemon being almost impossible to catch made the game all the more challenging. The rarest, Gible, has become a little more attainable this year as it has been featured as a boosted spawn in 2020. Pokémon World is extremely detailed, with over 800 unique Pokémon, and constantly updated the app.
Sounds crazy enough? The idea is to encourage you to travel around in your real world to catch a simulation of Pokémon in the game. In fact the idea was so engaging that it was said that the game may have caused increased numbers of traffic accidents, allegedly 256 deaths and economic costs of $2 billion to $7.3 billion in just the first 148 days after its introduction to the US.
Developed by Niantic in partnership with Nintendo, it uses the GPS on mobile devices to locate, capture, train, and battle virtual creatures, called Pokémon, which appear as if they are in the player’s real-world location.
As users walk around the real word, Pokémon characters appear on the game map. When users come within a close enough range the Pokémon appears on the device screen and users throw Poké Balls at them to capture them. You then use them to battle at certain hotspots in the real world, (usually landmarks or other places with heavy foot traffic), labeled as gyms, to gain dominance over other users. The game is free-to-play; it uses a freemium business model and supports in-app purchases for additional in-game items. It has been downloaded over 100 million times on Google Playstore.
Ingress Prime, released in 2012 by Niantic, Inc. for iOS and Android, cleared the path for Pokemon GO – where it took baby steps, its successor watched it and learned to run. It was released about two years before Niantic’s Pokémon GO, in December 2013. Ingress works similarly to Pokemon GO. The game timeline is futuristic, a mysterious force Exotic Matter (XM), divides mankind into two Factions. Players must choose a Faction and team up to explore this strange, new world. They then attempt to take over a location in the real world by physically visiting it to find portals, conquer them, and link them to create Control Fields.
In the game, players use their phone GPS to interact with ‘portals’ that usually coincide with landmarks, much like the later Pokémon GO. The setting of the game is a mix of sci-fi and cyberpunk in which Earthlings have come into contact with an alien force. The two forces fighting for dominance are The Enlightened who want to embrace XM power and control humanity, favoring the use of alien technology and The Resistance who oppose it completely and want to keep humanity safe from destruction.
Augmented reality comes into action when players interact with ‘portals’, earning experience points and action points. Your local nightclub might be doubling as an in-game portal, and you earn experience points, and try to win the location for whichever Faction the gamer chose.
Ingress connects players, and emphasizes on teamwork. It also is being studied as a connection between globalism and sharing cultural significant sites. By coordinating and strategizing with agents in your neighborhood, you can take over portals. You make core decisions together whether you are going to whittle away at the enemy’s territory, or can you stage a massive simultaneous movement to take over multiple portals all at once?
Temple Treasure Hunt
Developed by ThoughtShastra Solutions and released this year on March 26, 2020 as one of the few augmented reality games for android only, Temple Treasure Hunt is another Android AR game that uses geolocation. Temple Treasure Hunt adds Indian mythology to AR. Evident by the name, it’s a treasure hunt, where you can either protect the treasure or be the treasure hunter. As a protector, you create Treasure Trails using an Interactive Map in the Outdoor Mode or by placing Markers in the Indoor Mode to challenge the hunters. On the other hand hunters must decipher clues, locate Treasure Guardians and within a given time frame locate the temple of Shiva. It offers a ton of adventure, mysteries, and myths and is free to download.
It has over 10,000 downloads on Google Play and runs with ads and in-app purchases even though it is relatively new. Temple Treasure Hunt seems to have a promising future ahead of it.
A super immersive game available on Android and iOS, and released in 2012 by Six to Start Developers, Zombie Run literally gives you a full body workout. Players must do what we think is essential in a dreaded zombie outbreak: collecting items for survival, helping others, and of course, running from the zombies. Hence the workout!
Since the main objective of this game is the actual running, it is an extremely popular health and fitness app. Although resource gathering is important, the primary focus of the game is the actual physical activity of the user. You step outside, turn your headphone volume up (not too loud, you don’t want to get permanent hearing damage), and suddenly you are apparently the only survivor of a zombie apocalypse, and nothing is as it once was. Your mission is to collect supplies, build a safe base, and save yourself by running away from zombies that will sniff you out, sooner or later.
One thing that sets it apart from other games is that it is completely hands free, the story line with audio logs, propels the runner into becoming more engaged with their physical health. The climactic audio of the game pulls you in and will have you run for your life.
Priced at a mere $4.49, it has become the most popular smartphone fitness game ever, with over 3 million downloads, 250,000 active users, and thousands of paying subscribers. With its integration of video game elements to the real-world, this is one of the more innovative AR games, despite technological limitations.
Dragon Quest Walk
Dragon Quest Walk is an AR-based role-playing game (RPG) based on the Dragon Quest series. Unlike most other AR games, the story of progresses with the player as they complete quests and defeat enemies. However amazing it sounds, the game was released exclusively in Japan on September 12, 2019 by Square Enix and cannot be accessed anywhere else currently. Within the first week of its release, the game had been downloaded over five million times.
The gameplay of Dragon Quest Walk is centered on engaging with various real-world locations, and with various monsters and characters from the Dragon Quest series Players can choose between several vocations, each of which comes with unique skills and stats. The in-game tasks generally require you to physically travel to a location to talk to characters or fetch items. Battles with monsters involve single or multi player collaboration (up to 12 players), especially when battling several monsters.
The map of the game is based on the map of real-world Japan. The game appropriately scales the map so that players don’t end up having to walk excessively large distances. Along the way, you fight against enemies with your weapons and skills. Just like any RPG, players can get stronger weapons and more powerful skills throughout the course of their adventures. You also establish “home” locations and customize these with various decorations, similar to the MMO Dragon Quest X.
Dragon Quest Walk is an ambitious take on AR technology. If the game hits the Western market, it will be a hit gathering from how many queries google receive daily trying to get hacks to download the game. I must say we are waiting for it too.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
A fairly recent entry to the AR games arena and spun off from the popular Harry Potter franchise, Niantic and WB Games released the game on June 21, 2019 uses the same exploration mechanics as Pokemon GO but with a Harry Potter packaging. Fans of the series have fun with this game, choosing between different professions, wizarding houses, and getting their own custom wand. Like previous Niantic games, you explore a map based on the real world to replenish supplies, unconfound items, and battle magical beasts. You also travel through Portkeys which you locate via your phone’s GPS and explore the wizarding world through immersive AR.
Spells are your mode of combat, and you cast these by tracing specific patterns on your phone’s touchscreen. You may also need to team up with friends or strangers to defeat particularly monstrous or rare beasts which may be too strong for one wizard on the world map.
Wizards Unite is another good take on the AR gameplay mechanics that Niantic understands well. The game may feel very familiar and the fact that it allows players to experience the beloved Harry Potter universe ensures its popularity, it had 400,000 downloads on its first day.
Since augmented reality shooting games are in every gamer’s notebook, with an arsenal of 25 insane guns, excellent sound effects, and palpable animation Real Strike is the perfect game to experience outdoor combat. It combines your phone camera camera and the real-time computed 3D gun animation into an integrated view, allowing you to turn any environment you are in into a military simulation field. You can make a video of it while you play! The goal: The Call of Military Duty in real life. It has the capacity to turn any street, backyard, or rooftop into a real military combat scene. You can equip yourself with night vision, thermal vision, and tactical flashlight. If virtual combat is your thing, this is your game!
While most are adventure and thrill based and are readily available on the Android and/or iOS platforms, Spirit Camera even though it’s specifically a Nintendo game deserves an honorable mention for being among the first augmented reality horror games of its kind.
Released by Nintendo on January 12, 2012 Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir game is a spin-off from Tecmo Koei’s Fatal Frame series and uses augmented-reality to set parts of the game in the real world. It invites players to experience unforgettable supernatural thrills, using the built-in camera functions and augmented-reality features of the Nintendo 3DS system and is only playable in the Nintendo 3DS.
Based inside a haunted house designed around the 3DS’s augmented reality features, Spirit Camera requires a flat surface, and that you leave the lights on. Using the pages of the Purple Diary, a 16-page scrapbook that comes with the game, you interact with ghosts trapped in the home of the ominously named Woman in Black. Your handheld console acts as the Camera Obscura – the trademark “weapon” of the protagonist of the Fatal Frame series. Using this, players can find and attack the ghosts that appear through the camera’s lenses. The beauty of it is that the ghosts don’t appear in a video game world – they appear right in your living room.
Battling enemy spirits is the experience aimed at, and you’ll have to move all around using your 3DS as a camera to keep them in your sights. Hold out for your sights to glow red and you’ll be able to unleash a Shutter Charge that saps massive chunks of a spirit’s life.
Why does AR gaming need computer vision?
While our brain is extremely good at understanding images, this remains a very difficult problem for computers. There is a whole branch of Computer Science dedicated to it called computer vision. Augmented reality requires understanding the world around the user in terms of both semantics and 3D geometry.
The process of computer vision tasks are acquiring, processing, analyzing and understanding digital images, and extraction of high-dimensional data from the real world in order to produce numerical or symbolic information, e.g. in the forms of decisions
AR is a very active field, and in the future we expect to see many exciting new developments. As computer vision gets better at understanding the world around us, AR experiences will become more immersive and exciting. Even though currently augmented reality is experienced mostly on smartphones, it potentially can be used through any device with a camera. When enough computational power will be available on AR glasses, AR is bound to go mainstream – enhancing the way we live, work, shop, and play.
So that’s seven-plus one of the best available Augmented reality games that you really should try out soon whether as a player or a developer or someone who has an idea for more, or all of the previous, that’s entirely up to you.
At Appedology we have the capability of letting you take your AR visions into reality. Whether it is to design your augmented reality mobile game or to create soundtracks and levels and storylines, our team is with you all the way. There are many Upcoming augmented reality games and each can be the Pokemon Go of the future. Let that be your AR gaming app that conquers the market. It is your choice whether you opt for iOS or Android or both. With so many possibilities out there, there is no need to wait, call now and let’s bring the future of gaming to the here and now.