Pokemon GO took off with insane momentum out of the gates with its launch in July of 2016. Crowds of people young and old staring at their phones more than usual and walking about in a seeming trance swiping their screens. But by the fall of 2016 many of the players had become bored or un-enthralled. Some reports suggested that 33% or more of the original players had dropped out and stopped going to the “gym” so to speak.
Many do not know that Pokemon GO was released by a company that has had another successful augmented reality game running since 2012. That’s right, Niantic Labs which started as an internal startup at Google and later spun out into its own entity produced a fun and somewhat popular AR game called Ingress years before Pokemon GO. Ingress started with a small release that was by invite only and on Android only and then it began to expand with 500,000 reported players in 2013 then 2 million in 2014 and then Niantic reported 7 million players in 2015. Though it is difficult to find up-to-date numbers now, there are still over 4.5 Million subscribers to the Ingress Google+ community, and many avid players.
So I submit that Niantic can learn some things to better Pokemon GO from its other game Ingress. The two are already tied together. Most of the Pokemon GO pokestops and gyms are located at the well mapped “portals” from the Ingress game. In fact, I already suggested in a sarcastic article on my own blog that we can blame the Enlightened faction from Ingress for the appearance of Pokemon. If you would like to read more on that just do a search for “Pokemon GO: I Blame the Enlightened” (those of you who have played Ingress will know that the enlightened were always trying to welcome the strange XM anomalies and open the portals to allow the mysterious forces to arrive on earth, whereas the Resistance were trying to protect the earth from some alien force entering our realm.)
5 Ingress Characteristics that Would Benefit Pokemon GO
1) An Intelligence map: Ingress has a map available to all players of the entire world showing every portal and which team owns it. You can zoom into your local streets and see which portals are open, which have been taken over by your enemy and which ones your team still owns. Imagine if you could see this for Pokemon gyms and stops you may not know exist.
2) Notifications and In-game chat: Ingress allows you to chat with fellow team mates and enemies within the game, and see updates when a portal is under attack. This could be fun in Pokemon.
3) Ability to trade items with other players: Ever run out of revives, potions, or pokeballs? Imagine if you could borrow some from teammates in the heat of the battle rather than having to treck around and find pokestops to stock back up. In Ingress, you can drop items for other players they have a 12-hour disintegration clock and so if not picked up they disappear off the scanner map. The only problem is opponents can grab them as well. So you need to be sneaky. But this method would be great to free up space from your backpack or storage from time to time. Another option is an NPC at gyms that stores trades for yourself or team member.
4) Shields and protection: In Ingress you can collect shields and weapon items that help to protect your portals by altering the effectiveness of attacks, or even turrets which attack opposing team players when they get too close to a portal. This could be altered a little for Pokemon Go adding extra difficulty to gym battles or maybe causing the scanner to show wrong information for a period of time etc. There are lots of options. Maybe one could be a Team Rocket sabotage when 3 or more opponents attempt to take a gym.
5) Community Events: Ingress has huge events in key cities and locations where teams come to compete or complete tasks in the area in a given amount of time. It creates a lot of community and strategic planning and would be interesting if something similar could carry over to Pokemon GO. I picture an area of a city with dense pokestops and gym locations. In-game prizes would be offered to the team that accomplishes tasks like, take over 5 gyms for your team, raise them to level 6 and have the King pokeman of all the gyms be a Vaporean. First team to accomplish gets bonus coins and potions or rare evolves or something of that sort.