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Could Augmented Reality Be A Turning Point for Arcade Games?

"Google Glass" (CC BY 2.0) by  Janitors
"Google Glass" (CC BY 2.0) by Janitors
From the penny arcades, to online games when the internet emerged, to now, when they are available on smartphones and tablets, arcades have always been at the forefront of advancements in technology. With augmented reality (AR) set to take the world by storm, does this mean that arcade games are set to adapt and evolve once more?

The recent release of Pokémon Go has shown how huge AR is going to be. This is the first commonly available game that makes use of AR features, and it has already put the new technology on the map. Based on the popularity of this game alone, companies that produce AR headsets should start seeing a significant rise in the number of users. And now that one game has taken the plunge and been successful, it shouldn’t be long before other developers follow suit.

After declining somewhat in the late 90s, arcade games have recently enjoyed an online resurgence. The coin-operated machines of the past are more of a retro luxury item to some hardcore arcade fans, while the majority of users play arcades online now. They can enjoy some games for free, while some sites provide a chance to win money. Playing online arcade games using bitcoin, for example, can be a safe way to gamble, knowing all payments are secure.

Now that these games can also be enjoyed on the move from smartphones and tablets, it has never been easier to play great games anytime, anyplace. So could arcade games begin incorporating some AR aspects to enhance their return to prominence even further?

There is little doubt that the traditional formula of arcade games would work with AR technology. This is because one of their key features has always been simplicity, and their pick-up-and-play appeal. At the moment, AR is still in its early stages, and it seems that the more basic ideas will thrive.

Pokémon Go has proven this by allowing the user to see Pokémon standing in front of them, imposed on the real-world landscape. This is hardly a complex idea, but part of the thrill is the fact that this has never been done before. Tetris is an old classic that looks poised to make some waves in the near future.

With rumours of a trilogy of Tetris films in their early planning stages, and Tetris Blitz now available to play on smartphone, it would not be too surprising to soon see a brand new way of playing the game. Just seeing the game elements in augmented reality in front of you, in the same way you see the Pokémon, could be an interesting new twist on the traditional arcade game. But there are other ways they could adapt. How about a Tetris game that involves initially collecting all the different shaped blocks in the same way users have to search for Pokémon?

Of course, arcade purists may not welcome an evolution into AR, and prefer to play the classics. Like it or not, though, the game world is changing, and arcades are sure to move with the times.


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