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.