Next Games: Bringing The Walking Dead to life for mobile gamers

About Next Games

Next Games creates visually engaging mobile games based on entertainment franchises that are played by people worldwide. Past titles include The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land and Compass Point: West.

Industries: Gaming
Location: Finland

Next Games uses Google Maps Platform to power its location-based mobile game The Walking Dead: Our World, which overlays zombie action gameplay on players’ real-world surroundings.

Google Cloud results

  • Accelerates game development and reduces time to market by sourcing detailed location data from Google Maps
  • Automates point of interest management through regular Google updates
  • Improves player experiences with accurate in-game local landmarks and building information

Accurate, rich location-based data from day one

The zombies are in your neighborhood and riding on the bus with you to work. They’re in the next aisle over at the supermarket. That’s how developer Next Games wants players to feel when they’re playing The Walking Dead: Our World.

As soon as players open the location-based and augmented reality mobile game on their phones, they can see maps of streets, buildings, and landmarks in their neighborhood. For Next Games, this makes the game based on the long-running zombie TV series more engaging: in-game events like fighting alongside TV show characters or saving survivors is overlaid on top of players in the real world. But for developers at Next Games, building a realistic experience that includes every local street, park, and landmark would have been nearly impossible to create on their own.

Next Games graphic

“Needless to say, world geography is massively diverse and the types of data you need to have a comprehensive, high-quality map is equally massive,” says Sulka Haro, Senior Game Designer at Next Games. “In Helsinki, you have huge blocks of buildings that are effectively just one building, but if you log into the game in India, you might suddenly have countless smaller houses on a block.”

“Using Google Maps Platform eliminated many development challenges and gave us the data we need. When we moved onto Google Maps Platform, it was a big moment for the entire development team because that’s when we knew we had the resources to make this game a reality.”

Sulka Haro, Senior Game Designer, Next Games

Google Maps Platform gives Next Games a way to create The Walking Dead: Our World and render all of this complex data in-game. Sourcing local information that is consistent and reliable from Google Maps allows Next Games developers to focus entirely on creating new features that improve the in-game experience for players. Google Maps Platform provides accurate, rich location-based data from day one, which allowed Next Games developers to focus on building a rich game-play experience for its users.

“Using Google Maps Platform eliminated many development challenges and gave us the data we need,” says Sulka. “When we moved onto Google Maps Platform, it was a big moment for the entire development team because that’s when we knew we had the resources to make this game a reality.”

Bringing zombies into the real world with Google Maps

“The preprocessed data from Google Maps Platform helps us tell players what’s relevant and supports a simplified rendering pipeline. This allows us to really focus on the player experience rather than map management and makes Google Maps Platform a vital enabling technology.”

Sulka Haro, Senior Game Designer, Next Games

By using the Google Maps Platform gaming solution, Next Games solved the map data sourcing problems that stood in the way of building The Walking Dead: Our World. Google Maps Platform has been a reliable solution for the game, and Google support staff are valuable resources for developer troubleshooting. Google Maps Platform location data, which includes information such as local landmarks and building height, adds valuable realism to the game. With more than 100 million places and landmarks built into Google Maps, Next Games can help ensure that it creates enough encounters and missions from real-life locations to keep players from any country engaged. Google point-of-interest curation gives Next Games an additional layer of oversight to help protect players, as it automatically prevents in-game missions from being automatically generated at inappropriate or unsafe locations such as a graveyard or private building.

“The preprocessed data from Google Maps Platform helps us tell players what’s relevant and supports a simplified rendering pipeline,” says Sulka. “This allows us to really focus on the player experience rather than map management and makes Google Maps Platform a vital enabling technology.”

Fighting zombies with friends

When creating The Walking Dead: Our World, Next Games wanted to combine traditional action gameplay alongside a social experience where you find other people through the game and complete missions with them. Google Maps Platform helps Next Games realize its ambitions to take The Walking Dead: Our World into the real world.

Next Games saw this firsthand when the studio witnessed players testing the game near its Helsinki offices. They regularly saw players hopping out on the streets to complete game quests, which encouraged them to further explore tying missions to real-world streets and landmarks. In these missions, players team up to fight off walkers, who are the zombie-like enemy in the TV series. As the game begins, players can enroll other players in their missions from around the world and see the zombie interactions play out from their own locations.

“Google Maps Platform is a big step in the progress of location-based games. With how advanced resources like GPS positioning are now, there’s a big opportunity to tie gaming with opportunities to explore and learn more about the world.”

Markus Montola, Senior Game Designer, Next Games

Along with improving the player experience, Next Games views Google Maps Platform as a powerful engagement channel for the game. Points of interest provided by Google Maps give the community of local players accessible locations to meet and play at.

According to a 2018 App Annie study commissioned by Google, the title saw a seven-day player retention improvement of 54 percent compared to an average top 50 mobile game in the United States. Within a 30-day player retention window, the developer still saw a 20 percent gain. Player daily game sessions jumped 50 percent and play time saw a 10 percent boost compared to an average top 500 mobile game worldwide.

“Google Maps Platform is a big step in the progress of location-based games,” says Markus Montola, Senior Game Designer at Next Games. “With how advanced resources like GPS positioning are now, there’s a big opportunity to tie gaming with opportunities to explore and learn more about the world.”

About Next Games

Next Games creates visually engaging mobile games based on entertainment franchises that are played by people worldwide. Past titles include The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land and Compass Point: West.

Industries: Gaming
Location: Finland