Your first local multiplayer AR game

What ARKit 2.0 Local Multiplayer AR Games Should You Develop?

In this post, I want to talk about what type of games might be the best match for a local multiplayer AR game using ARKit 2.0. I’m sure that after watching WWDC 2018 key event and seeing the demonstration, your mind is racing like crazy trying to find out that great new idea for a local multiplayer AR game that will be loved and played by many mobile gamers.

ARKit 2.0 brings a local multiplayer functionality in iOS 12. That functionality opens up a room for lots of creative multiplayer gameplay ideas. I’m sure we are going to see some very innovative ideas. Having said that, there are already many multiplayer games that can actually be really fun to play in AR using the shared experience functionality.

Here is a list of games that we might see a local multiplayer AR version of them coming in AR in an early or later stage.

  • A chess game
  • Fighting games like Mortal Kombat style of Gang Beasts. I actually think that Gang Beasts can be so much fun in AR. Just imagine you pushing your friend’s character of the table 🙂
  • Tower defense games
  • Pool game is fun and for some people having a local multiplayer option can replace the need for a physical pool table. I’ve played Kings of Pool AR mode vs AI and had fun, so I’m sure playing against a friend will be even better. I can invite friends o play AR pool with me, needless to ask them to bring their phone 🙂
  • Jigsaw puzzle games – can be fun solving puzzles together with another person
  • 1-vs-1 boxing game
  • Multiplayer ball games similar to the VR game SPARC
  • Darts game
  • Manytypes of multi-user board game can be reimagined in AR
  • Cooperative boss fighting game
  • Card games (Hearthstone in AR anyone?)
  • Mini-golf
  • Cooperative block building game or Jenga like games
  • Basketball shooting
  • Collecting Card Games
  • and more…

I think that Collectible Card Games (Trading Card Games) can do well as shared gameplay experiences in AR. The main reason is that people will want to meet in order to win or exchange virtual good.  This works similar toe physical collectible card games. The exchange of cards requires an actual meeting of two or more people at the same physical location. It’s actually can be a really fun experience when you are able to obtain a new card from a friend in a digitized manner. Of course, it doesn’t have to just be card-related, but any form of a game that is built around exchanging virtual items.

I am personally very interested in competitive games for 2 or more players. However, to be able to find someone that enjoys playing the same games that I do won’t be easy. It’s not like an online multiplayer game with matchmaking where you can play with and against another player anywhere in the world.

This is something that developers will need to keep in mind when designing a new local multiplayer AR game. There might be many games that players will actually prefer not playing them in AR, as they are more comfortable and accessible without AR.

When designing a new local multiplayer augmented reality game, you need to make sure that the experience is entertaining and engaging enough for users to want to play it in AR. That game probably should be easily accessible, with a short learning curve, be rewarding and make it stand out as an AR game.

That type of local multiplayer AR game should also adapt well to different types of gameplay spaces. This is important because it should be playable in many different locations. I don’t want to be in a situation where I can’t play the game in my house because I don’t have a very large table or lots of empty space like my friends have.  That type of social gameplay experience should also be accessible, so I can tell a friend to quickly download the game and start playing with me. I think many of those local multiplayer AR games would be free-to-play, especially those who don’t have a single-player option. To make those apps popular and even playable (as you need another player to play with you), they need to be free. If a friend comes by, I would feel a bit embarrassed asking him to buy a game just so he can play with me.

However, this can work the other way around, if it’s a great paid game, the fact that it’s a local multiplayer game can help with self-promotion, with players encouraging their close friends to download the app and play with them, leading to more downloads.

If you already developed an ARKit game that is a good candidate for a local multiplayer game, you might as well add a new mode to your game.

Some AR games that I can see benefiting from ARKit 2.0 new features are: Castle Must Be Mine, LEGO AR Studio (we’ve seen that LEGO is already working on such experience), The Machines, Toy Clash AR, PuzzlAR: World Tour (two players competing against each other in real time who playing cooperatively to finish the same puzzle). However, I believe the more attractive local multiplayer games would be those who were designed from the ground up to take advantage of those new persistent and shared experiences feature of ARKit 2.0 in iOS 12.

I think that the ARKit 2.0 game Swift Shot that was demonstrated at WWDC 2018 was a very good example of a well-designed local multiplayer game. Although the game required a relatively large space to play, it required physical movement for aiming and scene observation that promotes more tactical thinking. The game is quite similar to how Angry Birds play, but in fact, it actually reminded me of the game AR Smash Tanks! but with optimized controls which require the player to control the angle by using his body.

I personally enjoy AR games more when I physically engaged with the game, rather than being static. This is why I enjoyed playing games like Meddling Martians AR, AMON, Rocket Cows, ARise and Tibb AR. It doesn’t mean that every game should be like that, but moving around or within the 3D scene gives you the opportunity to better observe its depth and the virtual object 3D dimensional shape. You can a better feeling of presence and of the virtual scene actually being part of the real scene than just an on-screen virtual overlay. This is why AR games that were built around observation and movement are my personal favorite.

Now that type of experience can be greatly enhanced when playing with or against other players.  I think that to make the game experience more engaging and entertaining, you should also consider making a game in which the other player’s location has a significant impact on the gameplay mechanics. The main downside for this is that this type of experience might require a larger game area, let alone a marginal safe space to play.  Take a local multiplayer Augmented Reality game like HADO and you can easily understand what I mean. By the way, I recommend watching some gameplay videos of HADO, which might spark some new local multiplayer gameplay ideas.

Apple brought us an amazing technology and it’s up to developers to make the best of it. I personally recommend looking at some already available local multiplayer virtual reality games to get some inspiration.  You might want to port some popular local multiplayer games to AR, but don’t limit yourself to that. ARKit 2.0 new features enable many new types of gameplay experiences that are just waiting to be invented.

I can’t wait to see what amazing new games you are going to create. I’ve already seen many amazing games that you’ve already created, so I have no doubt that you are going to make amazing local multiplayer AR games in the near future. When you do have something ready, don’t forget to let me know.