The AR and VR Mobile Gaming Trend is Here to Stay

Some of the most popular games on the mobile market now involve AR and VR peripherals. While some wondered if VR would be a fad in gaming, it’s clear now that the trend is here to stay. While companies like Facebook and Amazon begin to invest more into VR mobile gaming, curious users are starting to wonder if it’s worth checking out. 

While some users might wonder if AR or VR add much to the gaming experience, it’s clear that the feature is increasingly in-demand. While other uses of the technology like the creation of a VR meeting or AR digital conference are popular in the professional world, the gaming world continues to see interest in the peripheral grow. Here’s what you should know about the most popular AR and VR mobile gaming trends happening now.  

The Beginning of VR and AR Mobile Games

There are a lot of well-known AR and VR mobile games today. From Pokemon Go to Eve: Valkyrie, thousands log on every day to play these titles. While it seems like this newest trend came out of nowhere, technology has been in the works for decades. Back in the 1950s, a scientist and inventor named Morton Heilig created the first head-mounted VR display. The Telesphere Mask offered 3D stereo sound and some very rudimentary 3D graphics. While it wasn’t world-changing, it did kickstart interest in technology. 

Today, more well-known names like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive Pro Eye are growing in popularity. These rely heavily on VR technology, but AR has a role to play too. From the onset of the 1990s, many developers started exploring how to use AR to help make tasks easier. At Boeing for example, AR tools for building plane parts have been around for over 20 years. We can even see the growth of AR in video games as early as 1997 thanks to the Korean-built ARkanoid. 

Looking at the patent drawings, it’s incredible how much Heilig’s invention looks like the Oculus Rift. Obviously, the Rift is much more advanced, with head and hand tracking. Today, VR headsets like the HTC Vive Pro Eye can even track your eye movements to make gaming experiences even more immersive.

On the AR side of the spectrum, Thomas Caudell and David Mizell are widely thought to have coined the term “Augmented Reality” in 1992 during their time at Boeing [PDF]. Their vision was to create a head-mounted AR headset to aid in the manufacturing process for planes. While the technology has been steadily picking up in interest for years, the latest boom came in the late 2000s and 2010s.

The Big Boom in Popularity

In the summer of 2016, essentially everyone was out and about trying the latest fad: Pokemon Go. Some gave up the game that year, but many more stuck with it. As recently as March 2021, some 827,000 players log-in daily from the US alone. Other titles with popular characters and IPs like Harry Potter and Jurassic World continue to pick up new players with subsequent updates and expansions. 

The real perk to these games is that you can play AR games like these so long as you have a smart device. Hardware for VR games, which often require a head attachment, is also decreasing in price making it easier for players to try these new experiences. What we’re already seeing in the 2020s is an interest in VR and AR from the biggest game developers in the world. 

Some of the most impactful AR mobile games to date have come from major names in the game’s world. For example, Nintendo is a few years into their LABO project, which allows families to build VR peripherals out of packaged parts to use with their Nintendo Switch. It’s clear that these tools are more focused on mobile experiences rather than computer-based experiences because they’re more readily available to a larger audience. Not to mention, they’re continuing to show signs of popularity. The question isn’t whether or not VR and AR mobile games are here to stay anymore. Now, we look to what comes next. 

What Comes Next for VR and AR Mobile Games?

There are three trends expected to come from the VR and AR mobile game movement. The first is a rapid rush to develop more games for the platform. The fact of the matter is that a few great games on the market will likely not be enough to bring in massive amounts of players. That’s why we’re seeing more developers look to VR and AR mobile games as a way to offer an exclusive experience for a popular franchise. We’ll likely see more and more companies get on board as more people begin to try out the VR and AR experience. 

Another crucial trend that we’ll see in the VR and AR gaming world is mobile device companies increasingly building more hardware for these experiences. Apple is already rumored to have a mixed reality hardware project underway that will work for games and other uses. If a major phone company like Apple gets in on the market, then we could see millions of users flock to the technology as well. The fact of the matter is, however, that more people own Android devices. Luckily for them, companies like Google, Amazon, and HTC are already building more tech that works with the average smartphone. 

Lastly, the trend many insiders expect to see in AR and VR gaming is more marketing around these experiences. It’s hard to picture what playing these games is like without seeing someone give it a shot. That’s why more and more companies are putting together videos and mixed media campaigns around the hardware. Likewise, more game companies will show off their AR and VR mobile games as they invest more time and money into those projects. 

We’re already in the middle of the VR and AR mobile game revolution. The exciting part is that it seems like we’re just starting what will likely become a dominant trend in mobile gaming to take its shape. 

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