Starting today, Google Maps is opening up its mapping platform to allow game developers to make games that use real-world locations.
Location-based mobile games have taken off since Pokemon Go became a worldwide phenomenon in the summer of 2016.
Pokemon Go was developed by Niantic using Google Maps technology. Niantic was at one point owned by Google.
Using the platform, developers will have access to real-time Maps data, as well as servers that will let their games to scale on-demand.
Google has also announced a new software development kit for the Unity game engine. It will allow game developers to incorporate Google Maps data into their game worlds and build on them with existing game engine tools.
Adding Unity support also seems to bring in a much wider variety of control to what game developers can add to their game world. In Pokemon Go, the game world is a flat map, but in the teaser video Google released it showed the company’s 3D mapping technology being overlaid with a game world with buildings that fit into the diegesis of the game. This feature provides a blank canvas for developers to build on top of.
The last feature is a new application programming interface that lets game developers create in-game locations based off of real-world locations. Developers could make every restaurant or hotel in the Google Maps data display as a place to heal in the game world, similarly to gyms and PokéStops in Pokemon Go.
So far, Google has been working with three game developers that are making games based on The Walking Dead, Ghostbusters and Jurassic World, and is planning on releasing more info at the Game Developers Conference on March 19th.