Players will readily ell you, Ingress is much more than a game. Love it or hate it, Google’s augmented reality game has taken off in a big way. Devotees go out in troops, set to take down portals, even going so far as to get tattoos of their faction. With over one million downloads, Ingress has become a runaway hit for Google. Also, it’s still in beta.

That all ends tomorrow, as Ingress flies out of beta and into the mainstream. The game, which now warrants such things as weekly video updates and email blasts to players, is set to bring in a rush of new blood. Originally, the game was on a scaled rollout, as Google’s Niantic Labs wanted to make sure their servers could handle the load, and everyone enjoyed the experience.

For the uninitiated, think of Ingress as a mix of old and new. One one hand, it’s a lot like capture the flag, as you roam around cities in the name of your chosen faction — enlightened or resistance — “taking down” portals. Users are free to choose their side upon signup, and it really hinges on your quick decision based on the backstory. Do you want to help free minds, or do you think it’s a rouse? The choice is immediately yours.


Though a lot like capture the flag, or Othello, the game is also like an RPG come to life. By bringing the augmented reality to your town, and surroundings, there is something eerily exciting about playing the game. While some who enjoy the genre think of games while on the go, Ingress fans can actually play wherever they like. The camaraderie of having a team gives a sense of belonging, and the meet-ups amongst factions only deepen the bond, both to the game and each other.

Currently limited to Android, director of Niantic Labs John Hanke notes that there is an iOS app in the works. After a year, and “a good chunk” of the one million who downloaded the game still playing, Ingress is welcoming the world to its world. Then again, we’re not so sure they’re that different after all.

  • casperi

    Good luck with that. Anyone that either came on six months ago or now
    Will get nowhere. The kingdoms per say are already taken and anyone
    Joining now won’t get you very far enough to actually enjoy the game. That is if you actually have
    a life. To achieve even the smallest ability to take down a portal or even Partially harm it
    Someone needs about 4 months worth of game time. It was cool when it came out
    But unlike other RPGs this one takes massive partnership in person with other people you
    don’t even know and most haven’t used a shower in months. Then there’s the police issue
    When calls come in from people “mom’s/dad’s” calling in reporting
    There are like 50 to 5000 people with cell phones just standing in front of school or church
    or public Park marker yelling at each other. Frances Eiffel Tower
    is a perfect example. This may work Seattle or some parts of California but in the
    real world when a bunch of people crowd around objects “Portals” it draws a lot of Unnecessary attention.


    • eh

      casperi what are you talking about? i dont understand.
      I reached lvl8 in 4 weeks and didnt even play every day. Ive meet lots of new ppl and had lots of fun so far.

    • howeler

      Yea casperi I am going to have to agree that your rant is at best outdated. Most people that are like that rage quit pretty fast. I have only heard stories… I have yet to have anything other than a great experience.

      • casperi

        That’s awesome that you guys are enjoying the game. Maybe things have changed in the few months
        That I have been away or maybe it’s where you live. Who knows but my experience was awful down here in the south. Cops always harassing you, and the people playing were much younger than I. So for a guy in his 40s that’s been gaming all his life this wasn’t the experience I was looking for. It’s great though as I said that you are enjoying the game and getting something positive out of it cause that was the whole point of this type game. So I’m glad to hear it’s working at least for some. I think the biggest problem for me /us here in the south was the portals that were selected. Two of the main ones down the street from me are pre-K kiddy centers. Tell me how that’s not going to go all wrong. Many reported this to the development to take it down cause parents were getting nervous with strangers sitting in their cars or just standing outside the center on their phones. Other portals were churches, “newer ones” not ones where there would be something of value there, plus it’s private property. The only one that was good they pulled and was a Historical plaque at a Community Park. The park had been there for something like 80 years. But it was pulled for the reasons I said above. People hanging out either standing or in their cars and yelling at each other. So the only ones still left in my area are the two pre-K places. There’s one more and it’s a Electrical transformer on the side of a 4 Lane Highway. How does that even make sense I have no idea. So there you go.

      • haha

        Thats not the games fault that american people are insane with they law-suits and so-called pedofile-hunting. In here lots of kindergardens and schools are also portals and nobody cares what im doing and thats normal

  • iamcris

    I’ve been playing for just over 1 month. I achieved the maximum level (8) in roughly 3 weeks time. I didn’t invest a bunch of time either, I just learned the best way to gain levels early on. As with anything take internet message boards or forum postings with a grain of salt. Another poster here sounds a bit scorned for whatever reason. It’s a game, no need to be angry, just don’t play it if you don’t like it. Now back to the review, the game is ever evolving and changing in that nothing is a constant. My favorite part of Ingress is that it’s gotten my butt OFF OF THE COUCH and outside exploring and finding countless places of interest that I didn’t know existed before I played the game. It is a mobile game. If you have played or heard of geocaching it’s like that mixed with foursquare. As of now there are two factions opposing each other for control of “portals” and ultimately MU’s (Mind Units). It’s a community game but can also be enjoyed solo. This is not an RPG, it is an ARG (augmented reality game) a game that layers a virtual world over Google maps. So it’s a worldwide game played in real time. I have met people from the opposing faction and have had nothing but pleasant conversation and good times. It’s just a game, or is it? Either way, it’s fun and certainly not something to be upset or bitter about.

  • krewl

    I started playing last month, and I made it to Level 8 in a week and a half. Now I’m up to 2,500,000 AP. There’s no reason for anybody to think that it’s impossible to reach a high enough level to enjoy the game, at this point.