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Location-based games, the future of mobile gaming

Location-based games, the future of mobile gaming
03 Oct 2016

Pokémon Go, Niantic’s location-based game, has shaken up the entire mobile game industry. It has done it as we haven’t seen in a long time, and it wasn’t even expected to do so. When the game was released, evereyone were talking about virtual reality or the innovation of Clash Royale in social play and eSports. But Pokémon Go made everyone to turn their heads toward a trend no one was really watching: location-based games.

Location-based games aren’t a new phenomenon, althought they seem so because of Pokémon Go. Geocaching, the real-world treasure hunt game, was released in 2000. But before Pokemon, few location-based games were successful. However, Pokémon Go has proven the genre is worth a second look.

Niantic Pokemon Go screenshot

Location-based games benefit from relevant IP

However, the experts on location-based games think that Pokémon Go imitators will fail. Adrian Hon, creator of Zombies, Run!, believes that the success of Pokémon Go stems on the intellectual property of a recognizable brand. There may be players demanding more location-based games, but there are only a few brands suitable for this games.location-based games

There is an example of that, Geomon. This game was released in 2011 by Loki Studios. The gameplay was similiar to Pokémon Go, but with its own creatures. It was succesful, with profitability and accumulating more than one million users, at least until Yahoo! bought the studio in 2013. The company decided to shut down the game. Ivan Lee, founder of Loki Studios, believe that the Pokémon main advantage to Geomon is the access to the original Pokémon IP.

Location-based games are fueled by familiarity

Landlord Real Estate Tycoon is an example of success. This Reality Games‘ location-based game is like a real Monopoly. In it, players virtually own properties and collect cash from real world locations, from a Apple Store to monuments. Its stats are amazing, including day 30 retention over 30%, when the standar is 10%.

location-based games

Zbigniew Woźnowski, CEO of the company, believes the game is successful because the player feels connection to the properties buyables around them. He also thinks that it’s not advisable to force a player to get up and walk just to play location-based games.

Location-based games require real-world data

Another advantge of Pokémon Go is that it’s built on a database originally assembled for Ingress. The database not only took time to build, it also was assembled by a team with experience working on Google Maps and Google Earth. This shows how difficult is to get real world data. The problem it represents for developers, mostly indies, looking to create their own location-based games is huge.

However, there are some options for developers. One of them is to partner with apps like Swarm, which previously was Foursquare. They have spent years getting rael-world data and can license it to developers. This also encourages Woźnowski to create a new real-world data service for others indie developers. This could be a great option to get this data in the future.

Everyone was skeptical at first over whether the trend of Pokémon Go would last. But just month after the launch, we can say without any doubt that it is one of those game changers in the industry. There are more location-based games to come, some of them may be really good, but everything is because of Pokémon Go. If you have any doubt, please comment below!

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