Today, Apple released iOS 11 to the public, and it includes new features for gaming on the platform. These additions are two-fold; the App Store sports a redesign that dedicates more space to games, and augmented reality (AR) games built with ARKit are now part of the ecosystem.
App Store emphasizes gaming
First off, games now have a dedicated tab in the App Store (aptly labelled as "Games") which contains recommendations, new releases, top-selling titles, and video content. This allows the platform to house games in one standalone area, which makes sense since Apple stated that the games category is the store's most popular one.
In addition, the "Today" tab is a new section where Apple's own internal editorial staff publishes full-fledged stories around iOS games and applications. This can includes news, written features, interviews, guides, or highlights of certain games. Formal reviews will not be part of the section, however.
"Today" tab on the left, "Games" tab on the right.
ARKit brings augmented reality games to phones
ARKit is a toolset for developers that streamlines the creation process for AR games and apps on the Apple platform. Both the iPhone and iPad can run games built on ARKit with iOS 11 installed. The device's camera and motion sensors provide the real-world space for which game assets are rendered on. For example, The Machines requires a flat surface to draw up the game's maps, and players physically move around to get different viewing angles of the environment.
The Machines was demoed during Apple's recent iPhone event and GameSpot was able to play an early build of the game prior to launch. It works similarly to a MOBA (like Heroes of the Storm or Dota 2) in terms of map structure and abilities subjected to cooldown, but players control multiple characters during a match. It features local and online multiplayer, and a leaderboard. We also got hands-on with Zombie Gunship Revenant, a base-defense wave-based shooter where you place your base anywhere in the real world through your camera.
ARKit was made available for developers earlier this year in June, and the first batch of AR games hit the App Store today. AR gaming isn't entirely new; we saw the wild success of Pokemon GO last year, and AR minigames on the Nintendo 3DS. But with ARKit's integration on iOS 11, we can expect many more AR games and applications in the near future.
If you need to catch up on what was revealed during Apple's iPhone event, check out our coverage on the new iPhone 8 and iPhone X. Don't miss out on the new game from ThatGameCompany (developers of Journey) called Sky, exclusive to Apple platforms.