Oftentimes, games are a form of escapism, and as such, I think we have all wanted to "become part of the game" at one point or another, if only to truly see the characters and worlds that we've experienced. Sadly that is not an option yet -- or maybe it is a good thing we can't actually join the war front. Either way, that hasn't stopped the industry from coming up with ways to bring their games to our world thanks to augmented reality.
As of now, augmented reality is becoming more popular with uses in education, computer software, and, obviously, video games. While it's currently in its infancy, it definitely has the potential to develop into a serious gaming platform. With an eye to the future, and armed with the knowledge that game publishers love to repackage old games with shiny, new bows, let's look at some existing franchises that would make for good AR games.
Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! had kids fighting over the best trading card game throughout the early aughts. And while Pokemon is undoubtedly the powerhouse -- in fact, it was perhaps the most successful AR game to ever exist in the form of Pokemon Go -- Yu-Gi-Oh! is no slouch and has proved it has staying power after a decade of prominence in the TCG and animated spin-off scene.
Interestingly, Yu-Gi-Oh! always seemed to be a more natural fit for AR since it was actually how the game's TV show adaption portrayed its beasts coming to life. Wherein they would have full on battle arenas that two duelists would compete on with a deck of cards rounded out with cards that would come to life thanks to holograms. But is AR really all that different?
Sadly, Konami has not done anything involving AR. They have brought games to the mobile market, and even boast a popular Yu-Gi-Oh! title in Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Links, but they've ignored the possibility of a full-on Yu-Gi-Oh! experience. There is hope that one day this franchise will get an AR title, though. While it might be unofficial, some people have already started working on an AR Yu-Gi-Oh! title, like MicrowaveSam.
At first, I thought XCOM 2 couldn't work with AR thanks to its rigid strategic combat. It wasn't until I watched Directive Games' prototype, The Machines AR, that I was convinced of what AR could do.
XCOM 2 would be able to work as a miniature battlefield that could be taken on any surface becoming a warzone between humans and aliens. This would bring out the tactician inside all of us while providing a fun and creative look at this universe. While this wouldn't be a perfect solution -- I don't think you could merely port XCOM 2 into an AR game -- there would definitely be potential for the series in this space.
On the more playful end of the spectrum, Tiny Metal could also be a nice alternative thanks to its cartoonish, toy soldier appeal. This would work if you keep the cartoon style the game has and advertise it as a kids' miniature battlefield. Mimicking an experience many have gone through growing up, playing with miniature army men having a massive battle -- but this time, it would be through the power of AR.
Digimon is another franchise that kids fell in love with during the early aughts, albeit, not to the same extent as Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh! Nonetheless, it still has a massive fan base that would love to see these critters in the real world.
Digimon is similar to Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! due to its similar creature battles. However, since Digimon relies more on the stats and training than the player interactions, it should still have a unique feel all its own.
It could be similar to Pokemon Go, where you go out finding Digimon in the real world and catching them or interacting with them. It would also fit in narratively since the Digimon are digital monsters that can potentially interact with or visit our world. It could also be similar to Yu-Gi-Oh!, where you start off with Digimon and you earn more by buying Digimon online or battling other people.
Angry Birds. Just in case you've been living under a rock for the better part of the last decade, Angry Birds is a mobile physics puzzler where you catapult birds, presumably angry ones, into pigs' hastily (i.e., poorly) built homes. Having grown far past a mere mobile game since its release, being the subject of hundreds of merchandising deals, and even getting its own theatrical release, it has evolved to become something much bigger than intended.
Much like the XCOM concept, Angry Birds AR would utilize custom maps created from your own surroundings. Imagine creating an Angry Birds map in the park. It'd not only be massive, but it'd also potentially be rife with interesting obstacles. In addition, you could use a smaller area like a kitchen table for a less cluttered environment that would offer an easier time.
Despite the seemingly natural fit, horror is one genre that is sorely lacking when it comes to AR. Sure there are games like Fatal Frame that had an AR aspect and ARZombies, which offers a Nazi Zombie type mode. But those are more action-focused, without the horror aspect that consumers desire.
While Bendy and the Ink Machine heavily relies upon environmental horror, the creatures in it would still work outside of the game. In the game, they follow you around without you noticing, which would work well to scare you as you walk around the house at night or out on a stroll. This would offer a haunting experience as you go through the day wondering where Bendy and the rest of the Ink Machine cast are hiding in the most unexpected areas waiting to spook you.
Nintendo already has one of the most popular AR experiences out there with Pokemon Go, so it would make sense if they took a second venture into AR. They have a wide selection of IPs to pick from, but the one I thought would work pretty well, and is more relevant because of its recent popularity boost on the Nintendo Switch, would be Splatoon 2. This is a franchise that grew despite the weak sales of the Wii U, gathering a fanbase that keeps growing to this date.
With Splatoon 2 the core goal is to cover the entire map in ink. Now imagine if that were in real life. With this AR experience, you would be able to completely paint the whole floor with ink without actually needing all that ink, and without Bendy haunting your nightmares for weeks. It would also offer a fun competitive multiplayer. This would have a local multiplayer experience that could be played anywhere, making it a massive hit. Because of the variety of weapons and play styles, it could change the way you play depending on the environment in which you start up the match.
Square Enix is no stranger to having unique experiences, just look at Kingdom Hearts and its multiple spin-off titles. It has also ventured into the mobile market several times.
Being able to walk in the shoes of the series' Keyblade wielders would be an experience unlike any other. In the world of Kingdom Hearts, you battle the heartless and nobodies on countless Disney worlds. In this AR experience, you would visit each location through portals in the real world, on a journey to stop the heartless from taking over.
With Disney's money and Square's penchant for cutting-edge graphics, it would shine with creative, surreal worlds while showing how massive AR could really be.
As you can tell, AR is still in an experimental state. Despite that, there's a lot of games and genres that would work well in AR that have never been explored before. Hopefully, with time and resources, developers will want to take a serious look into AR so that it will grow from being a niche product we dream about to being a real augmented reality.
What did you think of this list? Were these titles you had in mind, or did you never think about them as AR games? What games would you like to see get the AR treatment? Leave a comment on what you would like to see in AR.