Western companies generally tend to struggle to break into the lucrative Chinese market for a number of reasons, which is why they’re inclined to find a home-grown partner to help facilitate the process. These first steps can be small and innocuous, such as videogames like PuzzlAR: World Tour.
A 3D jigsaw puzzle videogame, PuzzlAR: World Tour first arrived for iOS in 2017 followed by Android devices in 2018. It uses landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty or the Taj Mahal and creates digital puzzles out of them. As is commonplace with most augmented reality (AR) titles you scan a flat surface to place the puzzle on, with all the pieces floating around you needing to be grabbed a put in place.
Developed by ONTOP Studios, its arrival in China is thanks to a collaboration with Chinese publisher NetEase (Nostos, Stay Silent), making the puzzle experience the very first ARCore compatible videogame available to the massive Chinese consumer market.
It’s not just mobile AR that ONTOP Studios has been interested in. PuzzlAR: World Tour also went live for the Magic Leap One headset last month, the first app supported by Magic Leap’s Independent Creator Program to do so. The program launched last year, seeing 31 companies chosen out of a pool of 6,500. Other successful applicants included Funktronic Labs (Starbear: Taxi, Cosmic Trip), Metanaut (Gadgeteer); Within, Felix & Paul Studios (Marshall from Detroit, Traveling While Black) and Resolution Games (Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs).
“When I first discovered Magic Leap, I immediately knew this was a company with the vision and means to create technology that can make the future come to life, and I knew entertainment will soon change forever,” said ONTOP Studios’ Creative Director Nun Holhadela in a statement.
Mobile gaming is a massive market in China and one many AR developers like ONTOP Studios are keen to exploit, valved at $30.8 billion in 2018 and expected to rise to $41.5 billion in 2023 according to a report by Niko. Magic Leap doesn’t have quite the same mass-market appeal due to the cost of the device, but it’s encouraging more content on its platform, like the recently announced BBC Earth – Micro Kingdoms: Senses. As the AR market continues to develop, VRFocus will keep you updated.
Update: VRFocus previously wrote that PuzzlAR: World Tour was the first ARCore experience in China, but it’s not. Apologies for the mistake.