Pokémon GO creator hints at new AR game that can provide audio cues

Audio cues can be accessed by simply plugging in earbuds.

  • Published: September 20, 2017 2:33 PM IST

Creator of the wildly popular mobile game, Pokémon GO, might be on to something new and exciting. And this time, it is an augmented reality (AR) game that functions on audio cues. At the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, Niantic Labs (the game-maker) CTO Phil Keslin spoke about how AR compels users to walk around awkwardly with their phones held up high. “It’s very unnatural. It makes them look like a total doofus if they’re doing it for an extended period of time,” he said.

Pokémon GO, of course, had a small element of AR in it that most users preferred to turn off. But Niantic could possibly be working on a new AR title that bypasses the shortcoming. Audio can be integrated into an AR experience quite seamlessly, since all a player requires is earbuds to be able to hear instructions or clues, Keslin explained. And now, with the surge of AR apps on both iOS and Android, and new developer tools on offer from Apple and Google respectively, a lot of innovation is on the cards. “I want to look at ways to incorporate audio in future titles. AR is not just visual,” he said. ALSO READ: Pokémon GO crosses 750 million downloads; new in-game events announced

Interestingly, even before Pokemon GO, its creator had considered audio in a location-based AR game called Ingress that it was building. The feature could tell players which location to visit, or offer them clues along the way, and so on. It could even give users specific directions like, “Go left, go right.” However, Ingress was not to be, and Pokémon GO took over the world. On being asked if it would get audio features in future, Keslin said, “Maybe. Or maybe we’d use it in other games. We’re not a one-game wonder.” ALSO READ: E3 2017: Garfield GO is a Pokémon GO clone for iOS, Android

But that one game earned Niantic $1.2 billion in revenues, and 752 million in downloads, according to Apptopia, an app intelligence startup in the US. Pokémon GO had about 60 million monthly players in June this year, with 20 percent of them opening the game at least once a day. While that is down from last summer’s peak of 100 million players a month, it is sill a huge number for a mobile game. Pokémon GO is particularly popular with millennials, which Keslin, says has earbuds plugged in all the time. And that is his market for the next audio AR title.

  • Published Date: September 20, 2017 2:33 PM IST