A look at what to expect in 2018
We are just a few months into 2018 and from a geo-gamers perspective it’s looking to be a very exciting year!!
Lets take a look together at what we can expect.
Niantic Inc. with five years of operational experience is continuing to head towards their goal of being a GPS gaming platform provider. Ingress as its proof of concept is going strong and will be seeing an upgrade to its client and story line with Ingress Prime. The scanner app will be shifting over to a Unity-based client while getting a graphical and user interface overhaul. Niantic has set the expectation that Prime will release with all the current game mechanics we know and love. Along with the upgrade to the scanner, an anime series has been announced retelling the Ingress plot line from a new perspective. The few screenshots, developer lead previews of the app and the four-second clip Niantic has released of the anime are causing agents everywhere to get very excited.
Next up on Niantic’s roster of titles: Pokémon GO, the current king of ARG’s. Pokémon GO trainers have been through quite the ride in 2017, from failed events in Chicago to ending with the release of some of the Generation 3 Pokemon, Niantic still strives on their quest to be the very best. Niantic has been fairly consistently releasing new features and building on the base game we initially saw in 2016. Trainers are now able to get invited to EX raids and have a chance to catch Mewtwo. There are still plenty of features trainers have been expecting since launch, such as trading and player vs player battles. We haven’t heard anything about these features coming out in 2018, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be hopeful. Meanwhile rumors expect Generation 4 Pokémon to make an appearance and hopefully some further refinements to the EX Raid pass system.
If this was 2017 we’d be done, but this is 2018 and Niantic has surprised us with another title announced to be released this year using their platform. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is being produced in partnership with Warner Brothers’ new game studio PortKey Games. With very little information about this title beyond an expected release in the second half of the year wizards are curious to see if Niantic will have a smoother launch than what we saw with Pokémon GO.
This year we started to see some competition for Niantic:
Empower Labs, is getting ready to release its first game Delta T, a sci-fi themed base building game. closed beta was well-received overall, with the developers being very receptive to community feedback. Empower Labs shut down Delta T in favor of a continued closed beta due to the variety of changes they are implementing. While it’s been shut down, a very excited and impatient community has continued to be available to the development team for feedback or support as needed. The current teaser images and the minor details we’ve been provided is pointing to Empower Labs having made the right decision with shutting down the beta in favor of a rework. The interface is slick and modern, and with a promise of simplified gameplay that allows every Timekeeper to take part in all aspects of the game. The open beta is expected to launch near the end of march for iOS and Android.
Next up to bat we have Elyland, the creators of Draconius GO. Disappointed with what they saw Niantic had created with Pokémon GO, this small team produced a creature hunting and battling experience with their own unique and insanely cute characters. Draconius GO launched in mid October and has been growing fairly regularly since with it’s first creature expansion this past December, and a second expansion for Valentine’s Day. The variety of building types, power-ups and quest types in this game makes up for the lack of critters. Draconius GO may even be the first ARG on Mars! While Pokémon GO continues to be the better overall game, Draconius GO should not be ignored.
For the wizardly types, Maguss has now moved into its open beta stage, either using the unique wand accessory or your smartphone as you battle other witches and wizards. The game already has a depth of features, from potion brewing to its unique spell system. PvP is based around a match making system where distance is not considered. Having beaten Warner Brothers and Niantic in releasing a magic-themed ARG, this should hopefully save them from some of the harsh criticism Draconius GO has faced.
The most recent game to be announced is another based on an established franchise, Ghostbusters: World. The stylized teaser and a short game play video implies exactly what a AR/geo gamer would expect: track and capture ghosts by traveling around the real world. 4:33 labs, Sony, and Ghost Corps are working on this release together. 4:33, although a new developer to AR games, is no stranger to the mobile market space. Their experience as a developer will hopefully translate to a polished product, backed by the marketing heavyweight that is Sony. This game may have the opportunity to eat into Pokémon GO Market dominance.
There are other titles that have been released this year or are expected to be, such as:
- Father.io, an FPS/laser tag ARG which has shipped their custom accessory.
- Recoil has entered the same game space using different approach based around a custom access point.
- Resources is a trading/resource gathering ARMMO which continues to have a consistent player base while releasing consistent updates.
We are confident there are even more games we’ve overlooked, as the location-based game market is growing more dynamic every day. With the release of Google and Apples AR kits combined with the success of Pokémon GO, this once exclusive space barrier to entry has been drastically reduced. From our perspective we are excited to see how the increased competition pushes developers to continue to innovate!