GungHo Online Entertainment: Creating immersive 3D landscapes for Yo-kai Watch World

About GungHo Online Entertainment

With aspirations to be a global entertainment company, GungHo develops new game titles to provide engaging, fresh customer experiences that change how people lead their lives.

Industries: Gaming
Location: Japan

To create novel, real-world gaming experiences, GungHo Online Entertainment developed Yo-kai Watch World using the Google Maps Platform gaming solution, engaging players with immersive 3D landscapes.

Google Cloud Results

  • Engages players with 3D maps, showing structures and landmarks from all over Japan
  • Enables customization of the colors, textures, and sizes of game objects
  • Scales on demand to accommodate sudden spikes in gameplay

More than 2 million downloads in 2 months

Yo-kai Watch World is a Japanese-language smartphone game based on the popular Yo-kai Watch mixed-media franchise. Co-produced by GungHo Online Entertainment and Level-5, the game involves finding, collecting, and owning "yo-kai," or ghosts, and "haunting" real-world Japan.

As GungHo developers began working on the game, they faced a major challenge: reproducing the unique universe of Yo-Kai Watch on a 3D map of Japan that players could interact with.

"Only Google Maps Platform can supply accurate, realistic-looking 3D maps from all over the world, making it the obvious choice for developing real-world games. Using plain, 2D map data wouldn't work because it doesn't look like a game; it looks like a navigation tool."

Koichi Nobori, Chief Programmer, Development Division, GungHo Online Entertainment

"We wanted to make Yo-Kai Watch World different from other games by featuring yo-kai spread out all over the real world," says Koichi Nobori, Chief Programmer, Development Division at GungHo Online Entertainment. "Our goal was to give players the sensation of traveling, whether or not they are physically moving themselves."

To bring the game to life, GungHo decided to use Google Maps Platform to build a realistic, interactive 3D environment that includes landmarks all across Japan. Roads, buildings, and parks are turned into game objects in the Unity mobile gaming platform, allowing GungHo to plant trees in a park, create waves in the sea, or place parasols on the beach. Colors, textures, lighting, and the sizes of objects can all be customized, giving GungHo maximum flexibility to create immersive experiences.

Yo-Kai Watch World includes an interactive 3D environment that includes landmarks all across Japan.
Yo-Kai Watch World includes an interactive 3D environment that includes landmarks all across Japan.

"Only Google Maps Platform can supply accurate, realistic-looking 3D maps from all over the world, making it the obvious choice for developing real-world games," says Mr. Nobori. "Using plain, 2D map data wouldn't work because it doesn't look like a game; it looks like a navigation tool."

Bringing ghosts to life

By leveraging the Google Maps-based engine for Yo-kai Watch World, GungHo can count on accurate location information that's updated daily. Players capture yo-kai that appear virtually in the real world via their smartphone, either by physically moving themselves or by "possessing" another player and interacting with their location data. Players who choose the second option can take a virtual tour of Japan and capture yo-kai without ever having to leave their chair, couch, or hospital bed.

"Google Maps Platform is impressive in terms of representing the real world in 3D on a map. We were able to come as close as possible to merging the real world and the Yo-kai Watch universe, so players feel like they are part of both worlds."

Koichi Nobori, Chief Programmer, Development Division, GungHo Online Entertainment

"One of the most rewarding aspects of developing a location-based game using Google Maps Platform is that players who are stuck in the hospital can take a trip in someone else's shoes," says Mr. Nobori.

GungHo used the Maps Unity SKD to create a day/night cycle, representing the daily transitions from morning to day and day to night to make gameplay more realistic. Players can easily see detailed information on roads and train routes, enabling them to "possess" other players on those routes and capture the highest-ranking yo-kai, which often haunt places that are difficult to get to.

Yo-Kai Watch World screenshot
Yo-Kai Watch World screenshot

"Google Maps Platform is impressive in terms of representing the real world in 3D on a map," says Mr. Nobori. "We were able to come as close as possible to merging the real world and the Yo-kai Watch universe, so players feel like they are part of both worlds."

"Being able to construct a world as complicated as Yo-kai Watch World this easily is what makes Google Maps Platform so amazing. I don't think we could have developed such a detailed, real-world game on any other platform."

Koichi Nobori, Chief Programmer, Development Division, GungHo Online Entertainment

Two million downloads and counting

Yo-kai Watch World was an instant hit with gamers in Japan. Following the game's release in June 2018, it was downloaded two million times in just two months. As the game catches on with more players, Google Maps infrastructure and servers around the world will make it easy to scale on demand.

"Being able to construct a world as complicated as Yo-kai Watch World this easily is what makes Google Maps Platform so amazing," says Mr. Nobori. "I don't think we could have developed such a detailed, real-world game on any other platform."

About GungHo Online Entertainment

With aspirations to be a global entertainment company, GungHo develops new game titles to provide engaging, fresh customer experiences that change how people lead their lives.

Industries: Gaming
Location: Japan
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