In mid-2016, police officials in several countries had a new problem in their hands. It was serious enough for them to issue public appeals to citizens. They were worried that players of the viral game “Pokémon Go” would be less careful about surrounding since they were immersed in their smartphone screen. This heightened the risk of injuries and accidents.
Police officials in several states in the USA had issued public warnings, besides, the UK police officials also had to warn citizens. Let’s see the other side of the world. Singapore police had concerns about the game, furthermore, Queensland police appealed to Australian citizens to remain vigilant.
Two years down the road and Pokémon Go remains the most popular mobile app. Read this Statista report to see how it had the highest revenue in July 2018. This ’Augmented Reality‘ (AR)-based mobile game, published by Niantic, demonstrates the massive market for AR mobile games.
You can also launch a game like that, therefore, capture a share of this growing market. In this article, I will explain how to make a game like Pokémon Go. Let‘s go over the key features first.
Features of apps like Pokémon Go
To launch a competitive app in this market, you need to have the right features. Plan to include the following features, over and above standard AR features:
- New account creation.
- Customize player profiles: Players can customize their ’Avatars‘.
- Interactive maps.
- A UI that’s easy enough for players to participate in the game ’on-the-go’.
- Participate in battles: This allows players to participate in those engrossing battles to win new digital collectibles like Pokémon.
- Trading digital collectibles: The app should allow players to trade collectibles with their peers.
- An ability to make friends: Players need to make new friends in the app, gift them collectibles, trade collectibles with them.
- A capability to add newer versions of digital collectibles: This allows the game to remain fresh and interesting to loyal players playing it for a long time.
- An ability to create and celebrate special events: Digital collectibles captured during these events can have differentiated features.
- An ability to create clubs: Pokémon Go has gyms hence, a new app trying to make a mark in the market needs to provide similar clubs for players.
- Enough customization capabilities to keep adding new features: This will help in retaining the interest level in the game.
Read more about these features in “8 Features That Pokémon Go! Has Added Since You Stopped Playing”. It‘s time to look at approaches to create a Pokémon Go like app.
Approach #1: Use Appy Pie AR app builder
In this approach you don‘t need a development team, besides, you don‘t need to engage an app development company. You also don‘t need to arrange your own cloud hosting or ’Mobile Backend as a Service‘ (MBaaS) account.
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- Image recognition and tracking;
- Location/geo-based AR;
- Ability to easily integrate ’Virtual Reality‘ (VR);
- Panoramic and 360-degrees videos viewer.
To make your own Pokémon app, sign-up with Appy Pie. In a series of intuitive steps, you can choose a layout, drag-and-drop the required features, and publish your app. To publish your app in ’Google Play’ or ’Apple App Store’, you need certain guidelines. Consult the ’Google Play’ app “Launch checklist”, and the Apple “App Store Review Guidelines” for more details.
The Pokémon Go-like app development cost in this approach only includes the Appy Pie product cost. Visit their pricing page for details. They have multiple pricing plans however only the Platinum plan allows you to use your own branding. For start-ups without a development team, this approach allows a quick launch of the app.
Approach #2: Develop a Pokémon Go-like app using SDKs
Unlike the app builder approach, this is a full-fledged development project. Several companies provide ’Software Development Kits’ (SDKs) for AR game app development. This makes the approach little easier. I also recommend that you use an MBaaS provider. This helps you save the backend development time and effort, besides, you don’t need to manage the mobile backend.
Option #1: Wikitude AR SDK
- Object and scene recognition;
- Instant tracking;
- Image recognition;
- Location-based services;
- Multiple image target;
- Extended tracking;
- Cloud recognition: developers can work with thousands of images hosted in the cloud;
- 3D augmentations.
For a complete list of features, visit their features webpage.
Your team needs to sign-up with Wikitude. Create your AR designs using the ’Wikitude Studio‘. You can create and manage target collections besides, you can create and publish AR experienced here. Wikitude Studio is a drag-and-drop tool to create AR experience, furthermore, the company also has a ’Studio Editor‘ with intuitive navigation. The web-based studio is easy-to-use, additionally, you can easily work on image recognition, object and scene recognition, augmentations, etc. Visit the studio webpage for more details.
AR apps requiring more than 1,000 target image recognition can use the ’Wikitude Cloud Recognition‘. This offers a lot more space hence, hence, there is a greater target image recognition capability.
Wikitude offers different features in their different pricing plans. For e.g., the higher-priced plans include object recognition, scene recognition, cloud recognition, etc. Wikitude supports iOS, Android, and Windows platforms. Visit their pricing page for details. The ’Cloud‘ license includes the cloud hosting, however, for other products you need to buy an MBaaS service. Google Firebase, AWS Mobile, Kinvey, etc. are popular MBaaS providers. Check our guide “How to choose the best mobile backend as a service (MBaaS)?”.
Option #2: CRYENGINE game development platform
Their game engine offers the following features:
- An ability to design visuals and let your ideas fly;
- Sandbox and tools to create AR experiences;
- A capability to create characters and animations;
- A comprehensive gaming platform;
- Built-in audio and physics solutions;
- Real-time immersion, interaction abilities.
The game platform is free besides, they have a comprehensive set of tutorials. You can access their complete documentation here, which contains guides for everything including installation, interfaces, etc. You need to get an MBaaS account hence, consult our comparison guide I have referred above.
Option #3: Corona 2D game engine
Corona Labs provides a free SDK called “Corona SDK“. Their 2D game engine is cross-platform, besides, it’s built on the Lua scripting language. Lua has been utilized in many famous games like ’Warcraft’, and ’Angry Birds’. It’s an open-source language, furthermore, it’s easy to learn. You can build Android and iOS apps. You can also build for Mac desktop, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Android TV, and Windows desktop.
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They offer many plugins for different purposes, for e.g., in-app advertising, media, analytics, etc. Corona SDK allows you to call native libraries like C/C++/Obj-C/Java and APIs. The build is easy besides their simulator makes testing easy. OpenGL graphics and lightweight Lua scripting make the apps performant. Read more about its’ advantages in their product page.
Sign-up for Corona SDK here. The company provides extensive learning resources. You can access their ’getting started‘ guide here, whereas the developer guides are here. Access their API references, and plugin documentation here, and here, respectively. They also have a marketplace where you can purchase app templates, Corona plugins, graphics, and audio files. You need to purchase an MBaaS account from our MBaaS comparison guide I had mentioned earlier.
Option #4: Unity gaming engine
Unity provides a comprehensive gaming engine and they claim that half of all games are created using this product. To back their claim, they showcase AR games that use their software in their “Made with Unity” page.
You get the following advantages with Unity:
- A rich and extensible editor with artist-friendly tools, available both on Windows and Mac desktops.
- Ability to create both 2D and 3D games.
- AI pathfinding tools to ease your Pokémon Go game development.
- UI, physics engine, etc.
- It supports multiple platforms like Android, iOS, Mac, tvOS, Android TV, Windows, Fire OS, etc.
- High performance.
- You can build instant games.
- High-quality graphics rendering.
- Artist and designer tools.
- Build and collaboration features via ’Unity Teams‘.
- Performance reporting, app analytics, monetization.
- An asset store where you can get both free and paid content.
Read more about their advantages on their products page.
The company provides a rich suite of learning aids. This includes on-site training, online training, courses, tutorials, step-by-step guides, learning projects, documentation, and community support. Access their learning resources here.
Visit their pricing page to get details about their pricing plans. You need to buy an MBaaS account separately.
Option #5: AWS Lumberyard game engine
- Reach fans and engage them with Twitch.
- Quickly build live, multiplayer features. You will use ’Amazon GameLift‘. ’Cloud Canvas‘ tools allow you to build real-time online game features.
- ’Cloud Gems‘ framework enables you to easily build cloud-connected features.
- The AWS SDK for C++ is powerful, and you have full access to it.
- An ability to create near-photorealistic environments that have high dynamic ranges. You can also create excellent real-time effects.
- You can easily add game-ready assets.
- Creating believable and compelling characters.
- Robust networking features.
This is not an exhaustive list of advantages. Visit the AWS Lumberyard features page for more details. You can sign up here. To learn AWS Lumberyard, access their ’Getting Started‘ guide here. Access their tutorials here, besides, you can find their documentation here.
Check AWS pricing here. If you have your own hardware infrastructure, you can install AWS Lumberyard there. If you need to use a cloud hosting, then you need to use AWS. Check the AWS Lumberyard FAQ page for details.
Your Pokémon Go-like game development team
This is a development project hence, you need to onboard a skilled development team. You need to induct business analysts, UI/UX designers, iOS developers, Android developers, testers, and a project manager. Your team strength depends on the app requirements and your app launch schedule.
Please ensure UI/UX designers know sufficiently about mobile navigation menu examples since UI is key for a game app. The PM needs to be sufficiently skilled, for e.g., he or she should know project management best practices. Since a mobile app is a ’System of Engagement‘ (SoE) requiring frequent changes, I recommend that you use the ’Agile‘ methodology. Read our guide “How to build an Agile development team”.
Project management approach
’Scrum‘ is a highly tried-and-tested technique in the ’Agile‘ environment hence, I recommend you use it. Here, the PM is called the ’Scrum Master‘, and he builds a closely-knit cross-functional team. BA, designers, developers, and testers work together in this team, which is typically a small and co-located team.
The ’Scrum Master’ first gets the product features from the ’Product Owner’ (PO). The team estimated features and different ’Sprints’ are planned for collections of features. The team goes through a routine ’Daily Stand-up Meeting’ to discuss the status and resolve issues.
When the features are successfully developed and tested, the team conducts a ’Sprint Review Meeting‘. Project stakeholders see the app features and provided they work as expected, approve the ’Sprint‘. The ’Scrum team‘ then conducts a lessons-learned exercise called the ’Sprint Retrospective Meeting‘. Read more about it in “How to build a Scrum development team”.
Although SDKs and MBaaS providers make the development a bit easier, you should strive to gain optimal productivity. You need to use modern tools for that. Consider ’TestComplete‘ for test automation. ’Maven‘ is a good tool for build and deployment management.
You can try Slack for collaboration, besides, Zoho is good for project management. Get more tips from our guide “The 10 best Agile project management tools in 2018”.
The cost to develop an AR game app
While SDK providers and MBaaS providers have clearly laid out pricing plans, the development effort will vary depending on the app complexity. The local labor market influences the availability of skilled developers, besides, it also drives the manpower cost. You may need to get professional help with this approach, hence, please consult our guide “How to find the best software development company?”.
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