Ingress: The Location Game That Silently Outlasted Pokémon Go

Ingress: The Location Game That Silently Outlasted Pokémon Go

Ingress isn’t unlike other mobile apps in the sense that there’s the ability for players in the game to buy in-app items,” explained Bill Kilday, VP of Marketing and Live Events at Niantic. I talked to Mr. Kilday when he came to Toronto to oversee an Ingress live event, or “Anomaly” in the game’s parlance.  While micro-transactions are common among mobile apps, what makes Ingress different to Minecraft Story Mode, Wheel of Fortune, Barbie Fashionistas, and the other games on my phone is that none of those other games convinced 1500 people to descend on downtown Toronto recently.

Before the population of Toronto argument can be made, I should point out that it wasn’t a crowd made up entirely of locals either.

Ingress: The Location Based Game That Silently Outlasted Pokémon Go 4“There was a guy who came from Mexico City and someone who came from Brazil. There is one player named Marius who lives in Norway. He’s at every Ingress event there is so we kind of discount him because we see him everywhere,” said Kilday as he told me how far some people came.

“I met a guy last night who was in town from London, England. He had always had Toronto on his list of places to visit, but he had never been. When the Ingress event popped up in his calendar he was like all right there is my excuse to go.”

For those who never played Ingress before, it is a location-based, augmented-reality, massively multiplayer online game developed by Niantic. It was originally owned by Google, who used it to harvest walking-path data from the general populace. Using a digital interface that is laid over Google Maps the players of Ingress can capture and hold digital hotspots that appear on the map; however, the catch is that you must physically walk up to each hotspot before your phone will try to capture it. You’ve probably heard the name Ingress mentioned throughout the past summer when people couldn’t stop talking about Pokémon Go. The two games are often mentioned in the same sentences since they have far more similarities than differences. That includes the fact that both Ingress and Pokémon Go were made by Niantic.

Their differences are harder to point out, but one major distinction is the time each game spent in the spotlight. While no one can deny the success of Pokémon Go, it’s time as a pop-culture phenomenon can be measured in months. Ingress on the other hand was surviving on a smaller user-base long before Pokémon Go became so mainstream that CNN was writing stories about it.

“I don’t know if you saw when I asked the question about how many people were here for their first and probably half the crowd raised their hand,” said Kilday as he explained Ingress’ longevity.

Ingress: The Location Based Game That Silently Outlasted Pokémon Go 3“Yes some of the Ingress community has pivoted over to Pokémon Go. But Pokémon Go, because of the massive number of people playing it, has become a kind of a stepping-stone into the world of Ingress. Ingress is much more of a strategy game, and there is a deep fictional lore in Ingress. It is a harder game to get into, but it is also a deeper game. So it’s been this thing where some people have gone over to Pokémon Go, but a new set of players have stepped into the world of Ingress because they understand what a location based real-world game is. It becomes easier to explain Ingress if you’ve played Pokémon Go.”

For those of us who haven’t played Pokémon Go, Bill Kilday was kind enough to break down the rules for Ingress’ event in Toronto.

“There are two teams in Ingress, the blue team is the Resistance and the green team is the Enlighten, and they’re here in Toronto today to battle over control of Toronto. We will measure who owns designated portals, which are the hotspots in the game, at 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock. Based on that ownership there will be a winner of the event.”

Mr. Kilday also laid out some of the basic tactics that each team would use to win.

“Some people are already stationed in different areas of Toronto ready to capture the portals, so you got these remote teams that have already been dispatched. There is another thing that happens, and that is that there are people who are on the outskirts of the city who are trying to capture anchor points for their team to be able to essentially throw fields over the city for their team.” These fields are closer to the ones you would find in Star Trek than something like Field of Dreams.

Ingress: The Location Based Game That Silently Outlasted Pokémon Go 5

The Toronto event was actually considered to be an important one in the Ingress community since the two sides of Ingress were heading into the downtown core with the overall lead on the line.

“This particular season that we’re in, which is known as the Via Lux seasons of events, is actually tied 7-7 in terms of the city count,” Bill Kilday noted as he explained the importance of the Toronto event.

“We had events today in Setouchi, Japan that wrapped up a few hours ago. The event that’s going on in Cologne, Germany is happening as we speak and is probably wrapping up very shortly; so I don’t know who will win the whole series but going into today the two factions were tied 7-7.”

Ingress: The Location Based Game That Silently Outlasted Pokémon Go 6At the end of the day the Toronto event became a pretty one-sided affair with the number of portals, fields, links and other items up for grabs being dominated by the green Enlighten team. Websites like say that the Enlightens walked away with an overwhelming 1024 to 480 point victory for their effort.

While I didn’t truly understand it at the time, the Enlighten team was the heavy favourite for this event. It’s something that is easy to notice if you look at a map of Ingress victories over the last couple of months. If mapped out, the victories would be divided along the same lines that the continents currently hold.  All of North and South America light up with the green colour of the Enlightened while Europe, Asia and the Oceania countries are all waving the blue of the Resistance. The only variation of this division is Japan who witnessed a victory for the green Enlightened just as the Toronto event was starting. The reason why Ingress is still popular has little to do with the game itself, and more with something less tangible.

It’s a lesson that the Care Bears have been trying to instill in children for years, but that we sometimes forget as busy adults.

“ have a lot of fun,” Kilday told me as he explained that Ingress’ long-term success was the result of a community who grew to be friends.

Ingress: The Location Based Game That Silently Outlasted Pokémon Go 7

“At the end of the day, and the end of the event, will have played hard and they will have battled for control of the city; but then they will go out and they will party and have a good time together. And that’s just something that the events are an excuse for.”

That’s also why Pokémon Go didn’t see the long-term success that Ingress did. Pokémon training is a not a team sport and as a result will never benefit from the power of friendship.

RUMOUR: Articuno Is The First Legendary Pokemon In GO

RUMOUR: Articuno Is The First Legendary Pokemon In GO

Since its launch, Pokemon GO has had several claims of people finding legendary Pokemon. Even I was Rick Rolled by this claim of a legendary hatched from an egg. Now it appears that one Pokemon GO player has finally got the first legendary Pokemon: the ice-bird Articuno, however the validity of this is largely in question.

Starting with multiple Reddit users claiming they’ve seen Articuno atop several gyms, it seemed as though Kaitlyn Covey was the first in possession of the legendary Pokemon. Covey also posted a video to the Pokemon Go Facebook page to prove the legitimacy of the claim.

Covey claims that the Articuno was gifted to her by Niantic, with some sources saying Covey claimed this was through an apology email from Niantic. When asked to display the email, Covey refused saying it was in her personal email and she wouldn’t share that with the public. She went on to say, ” couldn’t I hack or spoof text in an email.too then? much much easier than spoofing full videos at different gyms and battling with it and still pic screen shots of it!”

Several people have come out to try and debunk these claims. Reddit user HunterBeckham posted pictures of the gym’s leaders and Pokemon after the Articuno post with neither Covey or the Articuno within it.

Other Redditors have suggested software, GitHub that can hack the games code, replacing Pokemon caught with other Pokemon, which as dataminers have confirmed, does include the legendaries. YouTube user, Kieran M has even posted a video where a glitch seemingly does the same thing:

Interesting, through all the controversy Covey did a live-stream to show her Articuno as well as show off the apology email. She explains that the Articuno was given to her after she “somehow” lost a high CP Pidgeot. Niantic decided to rectify this by supposedly giving her Articuno instead.

It’s interesting to note that within the email, Niantic misspells Articuno, instead spelling Articundo. This very well could be the smoking gun, or an incredibly elaborate hoax. Only time will tell.

As of right now, with the amount of conflicting information, CGM will not confirm nor deny the existence of Articuno until all the facts have been revealed.

Update #1 (August 3rd, 2016) – In a statement released by IGN, Niantic has confirmed the Articunos were hacked into the game, and have since removed them from the players’ accounts.

Poke Vision Shut Down

The Pros and Cons of Pokemon Go

Pokemon GO players looking to get a jump on other players just got shafted this week.

The popular Pokemon tracking site Poke Vision has been shut down by Niantic. In addition to this, other third party apps have been taken off the market. This means that the only way to find ‘mon in Pokemon Go is to, well, find them.

This comes off the heels of news that Niantic CEO John Hanke has a disdain for tracking sites and apps.

“Yeah, I don’t really like that. Not a fan.” Hanke told Forbes. “We have priorities right now but they might find in the future that those things may not work. People are only hurting themselves because it takes some fun out of the game. People are hacking around trying to take data out of our system and that’s against our terms of service.”

This in mind, it is easy to see why the third-party sites were taken down. That said, this creates a new problem for Pokemon GO. Following requests to fix the “three-step glitch,” Niantic actually took out the ability to see nearby Pokemon entirely. The consequence? Players no longer know how close they are to a given Pokemon. Niantic’s communication with the community has been suspect, so there’s no telling whether or not they’ll patch it back in.

It seems like Niantic has made good on their threats. Now, yes, third-party sites aren’t licensed. That much is true. But by banning these sites and taking the feature to track out of the game, Niantic is really taking the community for a ride. Not only that, but they are shooting themselves in the foot by damaging goodwill with players.

Only time will tell if this ends up hurting the game, or if it’s just part of a bigger plan.

Pokemon Go Won’t Affect Nintendo’s Financial Forecast

Pokemon Go Won't Affect Nintendo's Financial Forecast

After Nintendo’s stock doubled amidst the Pokemon Go craze sweeping the nation, Nintendo has issued a statement officially saying they are not responsible for the title and that Pokemon Go‘s success will not affect their projected financial forecast.

Read morePokemon Go Won’t Affect Nintendo’s Financial Forecast

Pokemon Go Possibly Teaming Up With McDonalds

Pokemon Go Possibly Teaming Up With McDonalds

A few clever players have discovered in the coding of Pokemon Go a clue to a possible sponsorship system between the game and iconic golden arches.

First discovered by Australian student Manu Gill, he noticed strange strings of code that he thinks alludes to the system being present in the game, but not currently active. The strings also mention McDonald’s by name. Reddit user KcYoung may have also stumbled upon the McDonald’s logo in the code.

Pokemon Go Possibly Teaming Up With McDonalds

In all the hoopla of the Pokemon Go craze, many people were wondering how the team was going to make money off of it. The app itself is free, but features an in-game shop to purchase useful items. According to the Financial Times, John Hanke, Chief Executive of Pokemon Go developer Niantic, wants to use sponsored locations in the game. This is a practice they used in their previous title Ingress.

According to Survey Monkey, Pokemon Go is now the biggest mobile game in U.S. history. As of yesterday, the game had 21 million active users in the United States. Within three days of its initial release, Pokemon Go had climbed to the top of the app charts and brought in more users than Twitter.

Pokémon Go Invades Privacy, Promptly Gets Patched

Pokémon Go Invades Privacy, Promptly Gets Patched

Pokemon GO has taken the world by storm in under a week, as our own Brendan Quinn talked about today. But with the runaway success comes with some concerns. Namely, Niantic being able to access a bit too much information — at least if you’re an iOS user.

Read morePokémon Go Invades Privacy, Promptly Gets Patched