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Google Maps Platform

Google Maps Platform gaming solution now available to everyone

June 15, 2020
Samuel Cheung

Technical Program Manager

Mark Burslem

Engineering Manager

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EDITOR'S NOTE: The Google Maps Platform gaming solution is deprecated as of October 18, 2021. Current users will have continued access until December 31, 2022. During this time, we will continue to provide support and fixes to major bugs and outages. See the transition guide for resources to help you plan the next steps for your projects.

Just over two years ago we launched our gaming solution to bring real-world games to life, starting with a limited group of game studios. Since then, 10 games, played by more than 11 million players each month, have been built with Google Maps Platform. But almost immediately after launch, we recognized the interest from independent game studios and developers to build their own real world games. So we set out to build a scalable infrastructure that would extend access to all developers and allow them to sign up and quickly get started online. Starting today, we’ve opened our gaming solution to all mobile game developers to create engaging, immersive real-world games.

Get started in minutes 

For the first time, game developers can get started online to quickly build mobile games with Google Maps Platform. Just follow the onboarding flow to create a billing account, set up a Google Cloud Project, and then download the Maps SDK for Unity. Once you do that, the Semantic Tile API and Playable Locations API will be automatically enabled for you. Our quickstart documentation will guide you through the SDK installation so you can start building games.

Customize game worlds and determine the best places for gameplay

Our gaming solution gives you the flexibility to either bring the real world into your game or take your game out into the real world. The Maps SDK for Unity gives you the tools to create and customize a game world based on real world locations, while the Playable Locations API helps you find the best locations to place real-world gameplay. Since the initial launch, we’ve added features like Mixed Zoom and Pathfinding to improve the in-game experience for your players. 

Mixed zoom renders a high level of detail for areas close to a player, while areas further away display progressively lower levels of detail. Rendering vector tiles at distance-dependent zoom levels, with a horizon in the far distance, helps you generate maps that span thousands of meters or more, while using considerably less processing. You can also create game worlds that not only occupy a bird’s eye view, but that zoom out to much larger areas. 

Pathfinding enables you to bring new life to your in-game characters–anything from directing monsters to chase a player around, to flying a plane to drop off supplies at a safe house, to collaborating on missions through a futuristic city. We help you connect game worlds with the real world.

With access to hundreds of millions of 3D building geometries and urban settings like parks and roads as objects in Unity, you can create immersive gameplay personalized for each player. And our coverage of more than 220 countries and territories means you’re able to do this at a global scale. 

Push the limit of real-world games

So far we’ve seen an array of real-world gameplay created with Google Maps Platform–catching and hatching dinosaurs, birdwatching, and everything in between. We’ve also seen studios quickly transform their games to address changing player behavior–like needing to play from home while sheltering in place. 


The Krikey team adjusted the gameplay in WINGSPAN to retain the essence of birding, while letting players play at home

Our gaming solution also gives you the opportunity to breathe new life into existing games by adding a real-world mode to re-engage your user base with location-based in-game features. 

Whether you’re a developer who’s always wanted to build a game, an established studio ready to kick-off development with a major IP holder, or a business that just wants to see what our real-world data and AR can do for your business, we can’t wait to see what you build. 

Visit us here to learn more about our latest announcements and look back at 15 years of collaboration with Google Maps Platform.

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