Will AR bring beloved characters to life?

Last summer, the release of Pokémon GO in the app store announced the arrival of mainstream augmented reality (or AR) gaming in a big way. Bringing back Pokémon characters from millennials’ youth and making it possible to “catch” them in the real world, the app was an instant sensation, and the first truly new thing in mobile gaming in a while. By late July it had broken the record for downloads, and while excitement about the game has since tapered off, people are still talking about what new experiences could be inspired by Pokémon GO.

From a tech standpoint, it’s easy to see how a boom in AR gaming for mobile devices could be just around the corner. While companies like Samsung and Google have already introduced their own VR goggles that work with their phones, Apple is supposed to be preparing for a major foray into AR. The company is unveiling its iPhone 8 this fall, and it’s expected to have a lot to do with AR. We’ve also been led to believe that AR glasses of some kind will eventually come out for the iPhone 8. Given the ways in which Apple has always led the mobile industry, it seems likely that Google and Samsung will follow suit.

The question becomes what those AR experiences will look like. The answer could be just about anything. We could see “escape the room” style games in which objects and keys are placed in our actual environments, or we might see more shooters in which bad guys comes streaming into our homes. Looking at how Pokémon GO led the way in this budding genre, it’s likely that we’ll see some games built around the idea of bringing beloved characters to life in the real world.

First up when we consider these types of games is the Harry Potter franchise, or its Fantastic Beasts spinoff. In the months following the Pokémon GO explosion, there were reports of a Fantastic Beasts mobile game that would work in much the same way, with users capturing magical beasts from the wizarding world. The reports were turned out to be false, or at least very premature, as no such game has emerged (and nothing seems to be in development). Nevertheless, it’s a surefire hit if a developer can make it happen.

Another thought is something revolving around the Avengers. These superheroes are intensely popular when it comes to movies, but they’re also just as popular in gaming. Many of them appear in tons of mobile games, and they also pop up in some of the internet’s busiest slot games hosted by casino software developers. These slot games demonstrate the power of the characters themselves by bringing an extra attraction to otherwise generic titles. What’s to stop a developer from using the same characters to bring an audience to a new AR experience? We could imagine a sort of real world adventure where popular superheroes materialize to help us on our way.

It’s also worth considering that we could also see more AR games aimed at children. Some might consider Pokémon GO or a possible Fantastic Beasts game to fall under this umbrella, but think more of games like Angry Birds. The hit game also inspired an animated comedy that was squarely aimed at a younger audience, and turned the titular birds into lovable characters. A game that could bring these characters into your living room would be a huge hit with kids, and probably some adults too.

The point is that technology is able to bring our favorite heroes and characters into the real world, and it probably won’t be long before we see more games taking advantage of it. As the tech behind AR and VR keeps getting better it’s worth keep an eye on how this is going to affect video games in the future.

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