“The Machines” on iPhone 8 shows us why AR gaming is the next big thing

Apple yesterday held its special event revealing the latest devices, including iPhone 8 and X, and Watch Series 3. Along side gadget reveals, the Cupertino company managed to wow audience members and online viewers with a peek at the first competitive multiplayer game designed to be played entirely in augmented reality.

The game is called “The Machines” and it looks absolutely stunning. It’s the most exciting thing we’ve seen in AR since Microsoft showed off Minecraft in a Hololens demo at E3 back in 2015. During yesterday’s demo, Atli Mar Sveinsson, CEO and Co-Founder of Directive Games, showed of the immersive features of the game in real-time.

AR is fast becoming the killer app that VR was supposed to be for gaming. While the tech community at-large debates which headset is worth purchasing and whether or not VR will ever find its way into mainstream gamers’ homes, none of us can dispute the popularity of “Pokemon Go.”

Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, the software doing all the heavy-lifting for “The Machines,” has been around for a long time. With the latest versions of Unreal Engine 4 (UE4), the company baked support for VR and AR in so developers at the cutting-edge could take advantage of advances in hardware and devices.

Nick Whiting, Technical Director of AR and VR at Epic Games, told TNW:

Unreal Engine is all about helping content creators get the most out of every platform, especially with new technologies like ARCore and ARKit. We’ve worked very closely with Google and Apple to bring AR features into the engine, and we want everyone to take advantage of all that work!

The future of AR gaming looks bright, and “The Machines” represents the first gotta-have-it title for the next generation of devices.

Today there isn’t much substitute for the console experience – you’d be hard-pressed to pull me away from my Xbox One in favor of a cell phone when I’m in the mood for serious gaming. Tomorrow, however, we might see the lines between devices get even blurrier.

The iPhone X is more powerful than a MacBook and, if the demo of “The Machines” at yesterday’s Apple event is any indication, we’re not far from seeing “Fortnite” or “Kingdom Hearts III” play as well on a phone as they do on a console.

Who wouldn’t want an AR version of Fortnite?

Whiting and the people at Epic Games behind UE4 understand that developing for mobile doesn’t necessarily mean making gem-swapping games anymore. With mobile devices capable of nearing PC-level performance now, having an engine that works across all development platforms is important. Whiting told TNW:

Because Unreal is cross-platform, Epic works with hardware providers to signal the future by demonstrating new features and functions, and this work goes back into the engine. As a result, Unreal is well-optimized for every major platform.

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