Google is using Maps to turn every video game into an earth-sized epic

Video games are about to look a lot more like the real world. If you’ve enjoyed the thrill of driving through GTA V and spying out Los Angeles landmarks, then that’s a sentiment you’re probably going to start feeling a lot more often while you play video games.

Google is making its Maps API play nice with video game designers, giving them access to the real world’s geography and geometry, throwing 100 million 3D buildings, landmarks and more into developer’s design repertoires. Game studios will be able to use these maps to serve as the basis of their digital environments with all of the models turned into GameObjects in the Unity game engine that are ready to be tweaked and have new textures applied to them.

In practice, that means developers could easily turn New York City into a medieval metropolis, or switch up some textures and change up everything again into some vast alien world. The gaming flavor of Maps API takes a lot of work away from developers that are building vast empires.

“Building on top of Google Maps’ global infrastructure means faster response times, the ability to scale on demand, and peace of mind knowing that your game will just work,” a company blog post on the topic read.

The update also means quite a lot to game developers stylizing augmented reality games that generally call on local maps to orient users in the game world. With this update, developers using ARCore will be able to take the worlds they’re building and slap them onto local maps, giving users a uniquely customized experience wherever they are.

The company is already working with several game developers to build this into new titles (including Walking Dead: Your World and Jurassic World Alive). They will be showing off more on how this works at GDC in San Francisco next week.