In a surprising move, Google has released an alternate reality game “Ingress” on Thursday. Yes a game, and that too “multiplayer map-based mobile online augmented reality game.”
The Android version, which is being launched first, is now live in Google Play, but you will need an invite to play it. The Ingress is available globally, unlike some of the Google products, which are released in select countries first.
The theme is one of worldwide mind control, and it’ll be played out in real life, where you’ll be a part of one of two teams which either embrace or fight “the power” — The Enlightened or The Resistance, respectively. With a companion mobile app installed, you’ll venture out into the world collecting energy known as “Exotic Matter” (XM), found at real locations. This can then be spent claiming, stealing or reinforcing “portals,” which are positioned at key public places. Teamwork will be essential, as the goal is to create zones controlled by your faction, and attacking those occupied by the enemy. One team will eventually win, although this end point is expected to be a year to 18 months down the line.
Coming from Google’s Niantic Labs labs, which released the Field Trip app in September, the game also aims to bring in some money for Google.
The game will be good for Google’s business from the beginning. That’s because of advertising. Ingress incorporates real physical stores and products in the game, and has brokered relationships with Hint Water, Zipcar, Jamba Juice and Chrome apparel and messenger bags.