×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Niantic Relaunches ‘Ingress,’ the Precursor to ‘Pokemon Go’

Niantic, the company behind the wildly successful “Pokemon Go” mobile game, is looking to breathe some new life into “Pokemon Go” precursor “Ingress.” On Monday, it officially unveiled “Ingress Prime,” which combines a redesigned app with new storylines, a new onboarding experience and an accompanying web series.

“‘Ingress’ was inspired by this idea that the world is full of interesting places that we pass by every day,” said Niantic CEO John Hanke during a recent press briefing in the company’s San Francisco office. The original game made use of those landmarks by using them as anchor points for the game’s story, allowing players to self-select in two different factions, and then battle the opposing faction for the control of so-called portals.

These portals were in many ways precursors of “Pokemon Go’s” pokestops, and at times even used the same landmarks. “’Ingress’ taught us a lot about real-world games,” said Hanke, adding that the company applied many of those lessons learned to both “Pokemon Go” as well as its upcoming “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” game.

But for all of the similarities, “Ingress” was also clearly ahead of its time. Combining mobile game-play with real-world locations and actions was a new idea, and the fact that ‘Ingress’ did so with a fairly complex science fiction story didn’t exactly help to explain it to the masses. “Ingress” was downloaded a little over 20 million times, whereas “Pokemon Go” surpassed 650 million downloads earlier this year.

Hanke said that the company learned quite a bit from the “Pokemon Go” onboarding experience, which involved a lot more hand-holding. “Ingress didn’t do so well in its first incarnations,” he said about the game’s onboarding.

Ingress Prime” aims to do better by using two AI characters that help to make players familiar with the game’s core mechanics and objectives. Niantic also produced a number of narrative-driven tutorial videos to introduce new and existing players to the updates to the game, and it added another story to the “Ingress” universe with the “Dunraven Project,” a weekly web series that adds another angle to the game’s backstory.

Some of the bigger changes are actually under the hood. “Ingress Prime” has been developed on top of Niantic’s real-world platform, which powers the company’s own game titles as well as future third-party titles. The technology combines the Unity-based mobile app with Niantic’s own augmented reality (AR) cloud, allowing it to anchor “Ingress Prime” portals and other virtual objects to real-world landmarks. “That really forms the fabric for what we are doing now,” Hanke said.

Rebuilding the game’s technology also helped Niantic to revamp the “Ingress Prime” app itself, adding 3D street view, a new portal design, new inventory management and even new sound design.

And it will make it possible for the company to more rapidly iterate on future upgrades, which will include a dedicated AR mode that allows players to explore landscapes in a tabletop mode — think battle map, but projected on your phone’s camera view. The feature is not part of “Ingress Prime” at launch, but will be added in the coming months. “Since we own this IP, we are able to be very innovative and experimental,” said Niantic vice president of engineering Niniane Wang.

However, even with adding these kinds of AR features to “Ingress Prime,” Niantic still focuses on a more holistic take on augmenting the world. “Our notion of augmented reality has always been a lot bigger than what happens on the device,” said Hanke. Instead of just overlaying filters over a camera view of the world, the company aims to add stories and gameplay onto the world itself. Said Hanke: “The world is the computer, the world is the interface.”

More Digital

  • Sony Innovation Fund Invests in Location

    Sony Invests in Geolocation Startup Used to Shoot ‘Ready Player One’

    Sony’s venture capital arm, the Sony Innovation Fund, has invested in London-based What3words, a geolocation startup that aims to provide human-readable and easily shareable names for each and every location on the planet. What3words was previously used to share locations for the production of Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One,” and has also had cameos in [...]

  • Netflix and Amazon on Different Sides

    Netflix and Amazon Take Different Sides on Content Regulation in India

    Netflix and other leading streaming video platforms have signed an agreement to self-regulate content in the booming Indian market. But Amazon and Facebook are so far sitting out. The new “Code of Best Practices for Online Curated Content Providers,” created by the Internet and Mobile Assn. of India, has been signed by Netflix, Hotstar, Sony Liv, [...]

  • A view of the SK Telecom

    Korean OTT Players, SK Telecom Join Forces to Compete Against Netflix

    South Korea’s three major broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS have joined forces with the country’s leading telecom firm, SK Telecom, to launch a new video streaming platform. The move is regarded as a defensive reaction against the growing influence of foreign competitors, lead by Netflix. The broadcasters already jointly own Pooq, with MBC and SBS [...]

  • Magic leap Is Hiring to Build

    Magic Leap Plans to Expand to Mobile AR

    Magic Leap is getting ready to embrace augmented reality (AR) on mobile devices. The company is currently looking to hire a senior software engineer for mobile AR, who will be tasked with “expanding Magic Leap’s platform to mobile devices,” according to a new job listing. A Magic Leap spokesperson declined to comment. Magic Leap released [...]

  • Microsoft

    Microsoft Hints at Mixed Reality Update for Mobile World Congress

    Microsoft may give us an update on its Mixed Reality ambitions at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month: The company sent out invites for a press conference Wednesday that list Alex Kipman, who leads its augmented and virtual reality efforts, among the speakers. Kipman will speak together with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and corporate vice [...]

  • Sinclair Enters Streaming Arena With Local

    Sinclair Enters Streaming Arena With Entertainment Bundle and Local Channels

    Sinclair Broadcast Group is diving into the increasingly crowded streaming platform arena with the launch today of Stirr, a free OTT entertainment bundle offering local news and general entertainment, sports and lifestyle channels. Sinclair aims to leverage the near-national reach of its sprawling station group with its strong local presence in markets across the country [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content