Something crazy has happened in the past few days: Kids are playing outside again. And they’re not just playing outside—they’re playing video games outside.
That’s all thanks to Pokémon GO, which lets Pokémon trainers capture and battle Pokémon via an augmented-reality (AR) app on their mobile devices in the real world.
But I don’t really need to summarize it do I? At this point, everybody and their mother knows what Pokémon GO is.
Now imagine that this trend can continue, that parents can keep sending their kids outside to play together, with other games. No doubt every game publisher and developer out there is trying to figure out how to capitalize on this trend.
But only one has an IP that’s truly likely to succeed the same way Pokémon has, and that’s Microsoft, the owners of the wildly popular Minecraft franchise.
Not only is Microsoft the rights-holder to one of the most popular kids’ games on the market, they’ve even worked on an augmented reality version of the game for their still-in-development AR HoloLens goggles.
Well, it’s time for Microsoft to set down the HoloLens for the time-being, and get Minecraft AR out on smartphones. They should do this soon, too, while the buzz surrounding Pokémon GO is still relatively fresh.
Now I’m not certain exactly how Microsoft has developed their own version of HoloLens Minecraft, but they should seriously consider aping some of Pokémon GO’s best qualities.
Imagine going out into the real world and finding materials to use for crafting and building where they would be in real life. A park or woods to find dirt and rock; a lake or beach to add water, and so forth. Add to this augmented reality zombies for a sense of danger.
Then, imagine you could just walk down the street to find other peoples’ creations, or team up with friends to build truly impressive AR structures and worlds—in the real world.
I’m not sure if this would necessarily be as popular as Pokémon GO, but it’s literally the only other IP I can think of that could even come close.
There will be many Pokémon GO imitators, and most of them will be a total disaster. Some may be relatively successful, but without the Pokémon brand behind them, they simply won’t have that special something to be a truly massive hit the way this game has been.
Minecraft might, however. But Microsoft can’t limit it to Windows Phone or HoloLens. This needs to be on iOS and Android if it wants to succeed. The time is ripe for augmented reality—something many people had written off as virtual reality took the spotlight. Minecraft AR could be both really cool and a huge hit.