Lessons from a year of location-based games with Google Maps

Real world gaming said to drive engagement; most successful when integrated with AR and social elements

Lessons from a year of location-based games with Google Maps

Almost exactly a year ago Google launched new APIs for Google Maps to support developers in creating location-based mobile games.

In that time, a number of games have been released in the vein of genre leader Pokemon Go: Ludia’s Jurassic World Alive and Next Games’ The Walking Dead: Our World. Other titles like Mixi’s Monster Strike have also incorporated location-based elements.

Social elements

In a blog post, Google detailed how one of the key lessons from the last year is how location gaming has been blended with augmented reality technology and social features.

According to Next Games, 90 per cent of the game’s daily active users are in a guild. Three out of every four players meanwhile play the title with friends.

AR has also been a key part of these location-based games. Rather than just keeping the gameplay solely on the phone, AR is used to bring the game into the real world - whether that’s with pokemon, zombies or dinosaurs.

Google said that five games launched on its Google Maps platforms over the last year. Three of the top 10 ARCore games in the last year have been built on the location tech.

Engagement driver in new and old games

Another big takeaway is how location-based gaming can drive engagement. Ludia claimed that players opened Jurassic World Alive twice as often as its other non-location-based titles. Its portfolio includes titles such as What’s Your Story? And Jurassic World: The Game.

Next Games meanwhile said that it has achieved a 54 per cent higher day seven retention rate compared to the average for the top 50 US games, based on App Annie data.

For Mixi, it’s already had massive multi-billion dollar success with Monster Strike. As a brand new feature, it integrated a map mode recently and the publisher claimed that it saw a 30 per cent increase in daily sessions after adding location-based features.

It also said that 50 per cent of users who engaged with these features played the title for five or more consecutive days.+

Mixi's Monster Strike recently incorporated location-based features, resulting in a 30 per cent boost in daily sessions

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Craig Chapple is a freelance analyst, consultant and writer with specialist knowledge of the games industry. He has previously served as Senior Editor at, as well as holding roles at Sensor Tower, Nintendo and Develop.