Augmented reality (AR) is experiencing a surge in popularity. It’s the next big thing in gaming, and it’s coming to mobile phones, tablets, and more. The technology has been around for some time now but didn’t really take off until recent years when companies like Google announced their ARCore platform. Now there are plenty of tools out there designed specifically for augmented reality game development—and they’re not all expensive!
Unity is a game engine, which means it’s used to create games and apps. It has both free and paid versions, with the free version being used by many large companies like Electronic Arts (EA), Facebook and Netflix. Unity also has a large community of indie developers who use it for their projects!
Altspace is a browser-based augmented reality platform that lets you create, share and play virtual reality games with others in augmented reality. With Altspace, you can:
- Share your creations with the world.
- Play games created by other users on your computer or phone.
- Host your own events where everyone attending will be able to see each other’s avatars (their 3D avatar representation).
Unreal Engine is a complete suite of game development tools. It’s used to build games like Fortnite, Robo Recall and Apex Legends.
Unreal Engine is free to use for non-commercial projects, but it also offers subscription plans that provide access to source code, updates and training materials.
Google Tango is a platform for building AR apps. It works on phones and tablets, and it can detect motion, depth, and area.
ARCore is a platform for building augmented reality apps for Android. ARCore uses the camera on your phone to detect motion and light, then blends digital objects and information with the environment around you.
Vuforia is a platform that enables you to bring any image or 3D model to life in the real world. It’s used by over 4,000 companies and developers worldwide.
Vuforia comes with various tools for designing your game including:
- AR Studio – A visual programming environment that allows you to create augmented reality apps without writing code. This tool has several templates available for creating common types of games such as treasure hunts or sports simulations.
- Vuforia Engine SDK – An SDK (software development kit) that lets you integrate augmented reality functionality into your own apps with minimal effort from before they’re published on Google Play or App Store
Viro Media is a tool that allows you to create AR experiences with a simple drag-and-drop interface. It provides a full suite of tools to create AR content, including a 3D model editor and a visual scripting language.
Wikitude SDK for Unity
Wikitude SDK for Android
Wikitude SDK for iOS
Wikitude SDK for Web
Hololens Design Toolkit 2.0
You can use the Hololens Design Toolkit 2.0 to create 3D content for your Hololens game. This tool can be used to create new objects, or import existing ones from Sketchup or Autodesk Maya. It allows you to animate those objects and add sounds too!
You can also test your content on a real HoloLens using this toolkit–which is really useful when you’re getting started with developing Augmented Reality games for Microsoft’s AR headset.
Microsoft HoloToolkit is a Unity extension that enables developers to build mixed reality apps for Windows Mixed Reality immersive headsets. It is a collection of scripts and components that enable you to build applications for HoloLens, Windows Mixed Reality headsets, and other devices (e.g., the Samsung Gear VR).
HoloToolkit contains the following:
- 3D models of various objects such as bookshelves, chairs, tables;
- Prefabs to quickly add them into your scene;
- Materials used on these objects so they look realistic in your scenes;
- Tools for adding interactivity through gaze/gesture detection or voice commands such as “select”;
OpenCV#3D-Scanner is a toolkit for building AR applications. It provides a set of APIs to access depth data, and supports both Android and iOS platforms.
There you have it, the best 20 tools to design augmented reality games. If you’re looking for something more specific and want to get started with AR game development, check out our list of top 10 AR SDKs and APIs.