Google is finally putting its incredible power to good use in launching a massively multiplayer AR game, Ingress, which draws on the company’s unrivalled location and business data.
Launching on Android through Google Play today, and expected on other mobile devices at a later date, Ingress has players battling for control of the world – or more specifically, for the minds of its inhabitants.
AllThingsD reports players visit nominated locations in order to collect XM, units of energy used to fuel in-game actions, so Ingress actually requires you to get out of the house and explore your surroundings. The energy is spent to unlock “missions” which are attached to real-world locations like libraries and other publicly accessible places.
Players are divided into two factions – The Enlightened, who use the power found in-game, and The Resistance, who battle it. It’s playable anywhere in the world, although the more populous your hometown the more likely it is you will find content. Google benefits from the game’s existence because collection energy and completing missions will sometimes involve businesses – a kind of advertising.
The free mobile app was developed by Niantic Labs, an internal Google start-up led by the company’s former geo director John Hanke, who said its augmented reality leanings were inspired by the idea of devices ‘just melting away’ as you use them. It’s been in testing by Google employees for six months.
Check out a trailer below, and visit the Ingress website for more information. The site suggests the game is still in closed testing; unfortunately, the app is not yet accessible from Australia so I’m not sure if it’s available internationally yet either.