Google launches Google Maps AR APIs

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Google has launched first party support for AR games built on top their Google Maps product, enabling third party gaming developers to utilize the full extent of their platform in order to build engaging mobile AR experiences.

In a clear move to curb Niantic as a competitor and provide a viable alternative to NIA’s exclusive PoI database, Google has entered the AR gaming space with three soon to be available AR games:

  • Jurassic Park: Alive (Ludia games)
  • Ghostbusters World (4:33 Creative Lab)
  • The Walking Dead: Our World (Next Games)

If you were wondering why are all of these games suddenly in development, it seems that Google’s AR Map APIs are the answer. Here’s a quick preview of Jurassic World Alive:

Google’s AR map solution offers a pretty straightforward way for developers to integrate the real world into their games, especially if they’re using the Unity game engine. As shared by Clementine Jacoby, Product Manager @ Google Maps APIs, Google has turned “buildings, roads, and parks into GameObjects in Unity, where developers can then add texture, style, and customization to match the look and feel of your game.” 

In other worlds, the game developer can interact with Google Maps data as with every other GameObject in Unity: no black dev magic required!

Additionally, the data set is seemingly endless, as Google Maps is the de facto leader in this space. Google shared the following numbers: 100 million 3D buildings, roads, landmarks and parks from over 200 countries are available in the API. Google shared the following concept visualization for their new API:

The story doesn’t end there, as Google gives partners early access to ARCore, in order better understand the user’s environment and reach over 100M devices across the ecosystem.

Google will be demoing their new solution at GDC 18, where the Google Maps APIs team will be on hand to deliver talks, answer questions, and share exciting demos. As of the time of this publication, there has been no response from Niantic whatsoever — we’ll keep you updated in case something changes.

You can learn more about Google Maps AR APIs at their official website and stay tuned for our coverage of GDC 18, we’re expecting a lot of exciting news.