RIP Ingress 2012–2015

Well, Ingress, you’ve had a good run.

At launch, in November 2012, you motivated me to start putting money aside for a new phone that could run heavy games like you.

Throughout 2013 and much of 2014, you got me out and about, wherever I was, whomever I was with. You connected me with new people when I went to California for the summer, and brought my friend group closer together at college by getting us to roam campus together for hours late at night.

But, Niantic, you’re losing your way.

Cheating is still widespread. Your lackadaisical response to reports of location spoofing and multi-account users makes us legitimate players wonder if you’re really in this to make a good game.

We wonder how much you really value those of us who submit new Portals, when you decree that submissions will no longer count toward the Seer badge, making it nothing more than a relic lingering on our profiles. I no longer bother submitting portals. Rumor has it that overwhelming portal submission volume motivated the change—but you should have just disabled submissions until you could catch up. Instead, you killed a medal that many of us wanted to eventually turn Onyx.

Since the Seer fiasco, not much happened. The occasional promotional item was introduced, but gameplay remained pretty stagnant. My friends lost interest. I lost interest. I got back into the game, on occasion. This summer I finally got the Onyx Guardian medal after happening to capture a lucky portal in the middle of nowhere. But I don’t really care about the game any more.

And now, you’re adding a new currency to the game. Unlike XM, the new Chaotic Matter Units (CMU) cannot be gathered in-game.

They can only be bought.

With real money.

Every game with this sort of exclusive currency system has lost my interest in a matter of weeks, or even just days. Games that let you earn currency through gameplay, instead of paying for it, have a much better chance at retaining my interest. Even if I don’t want to buy the currency, it’s still motivating to play for the rewards. It takes longer to earn in-game purchases, but there’s still satisfaction at having gotten to that point—at having had the dedication to get there.

Gameloft’s Asphalt 8, back when it still had only one currency, was motivating. Could credits be bought? Sure. But they could also be “bought” by racing a lot.

Future Games of London’s Hungry Shark Evolution has a coin store, yes. But the game also allows earning enough coins to progress simply by playing. (Sometimes it feels slow, but any game can feel that way sometimes. Even games without in-app purchases or PC games.)

Twodots’ Dots let me earn enough dots to never worry about buying power-ups or themes when I wanted them—and I never bought the Dot Doubler. Again, just by playing enough, I can earn whatever I want.

But your new Ingress store, Niantic, doesn’t allow that. It uses a currency that can’t be earned—not in any way you’ve documented beyond a vague FAQ answer that mentions “promotions”. CMU can only be bought. And that feels shitty.

I’m sure Key Lockers were created in response to requests from players. Since before I even started playing, players have been asking for “keyrings” to save souvenir keys and the like. And now our requests have been answered, finally. But not for free.

If I want any Key Lockers, it looks like paying $10—none of this $9.99 crap; just call it $10—to get enough CMU for the five-pack is the only option. And again, that’s shitty.

There’s still no motivation to keep playing. Leveling up past Level 10 won’t change what I can do in-game. If I could earn CMU by playing, the way I can earn coins or credits in other games by playing, there would be motivation—at least for a while.

But I can’t, Niantic. You made that choice.

So I’ll probably keep playing just enough every day to keep my Guardian charged, and then shut off the app. Why bother doing anything more, when it seems that all you want from me these days is money?

dgw

I am an avid technology and software user, in addition to being reasonably well-versed in CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Python, and (though it still scares me) Perl. Aside from my technological tendencies, I am also a theatre technician, sound designer, violinist, singer, and actor.

8 Comments:

  1. Is Niantic run by a bunch of ADD afflicted tweens? Fine, so Nintendo made them into .com billionares. Would Parker Brothers stop making Monopoly money and insist we use BitCoin?
    Agree 100%, this pay-to-play crap makes the game almost worthless.

    • I bet if they did people would buy bit coins….Quit whining, stop playing the damn game or shut the fack up.

  2. waaa, waaa, waaa. You don’t HAVE to buy anything from the store to play the game. I’m lvl9 and haven’t spent a penny on the game with the one exception of key lockers.

    • No, you don’t “HAVE to” buy anything to play. I’m Lv.10 and haven’t spent a single penny, though it took me a few years and even before quitting I hadn’t earned a new level in probably a year.

      Niantic crossed a very important line with their implementation of the in-app store. Instead of making IAPs a faster way to obtain/accomplish certain things in-game, they made IAPs the only way to obtain/accomplish certain things.

      Your key locker purchase is a great example. There is no other way to get a key locker if you don’t want to (or can’t) pay for one. As soon as special items not available through hacking entered the game, Niantic lost my trust—the trust they earned by putting capsules into the regular hack reward pool (just at a very low probability).

      • This post is so whiny and flat out absurd. The title should be “I want my free game to be free forever”. How long do you expect a game without ads to stick around otherwise?

        The items in the store provide little to no advantage and are mostly flashy toys. Key lockers are the only thing useful in the store and lend to organization not so much expansion. Let’s be honest, if you’re maxing out at 2000 items regularly you’re doing something wrong. Go destroy something and use some of those weapons and mods.

        FYI, I’m Level 11 and have never spent a single cent in the store.

  3. It would be nice if you u got get thise items by hacking. And i dont see why u cant. But then again we didnt pay for the game. It runs smooth. So i guess i will live with no key locker.

  4. tobbyhush RES

    Let’s see… You’re quitting a game when they just have added a HIGHLY LIMITED store? Almost any other game I have been playing in the past, when it has store, you were able to purchase WEAPONS with the in-game currency earned from gameplay or real-life money. And nothing else but a large bunch of people buying with money to obtain incredible amounts of weapons and stuff like that and fighting against people who wasn’t paying (who’s gonna loose there?)
    Same shit happening in almost all games, not Ingress.
    Niantic is not selling weapons or unhackable things you would really need to keep going up at the SAME SPEED as a paying agent.

    Frackers just last 10 minutes long, and the deployment of it shows up in the COMM, so mostly your portal will go down to L1 before the first fracker has ended. So it’s useless except for having fun when meeting 8+ agents, it just costs the price of a coffee and it’s fun to receive x16 bursters in a single hack. It doesn’t mean your inventory will be perfect, but it is a good start if you were completely down surviving with L6 weapons.

    Beacons are useless, but they’re fancy stuff, maybe only useful when you can’t do any action to let other agents know your location. A virus would do, but someone would want to kill you.

    And finally, the only thing in the store that is useful: KeyLockers. They’re limited to 5 per agent, which gives a max over common limit of 500. Useful when you want to improve Connector and Controller medals, nothing else. You can not even recharge keys within the Capsule, or view remotely the portal, or anything. They act just like REGULAR capsules. And they only cost 10$ the whole pack of 5 allowed per agent, don’t tell me that you didn’t spent that on Ingress by travelling out there, or taking the bus so you have more time to capture portals before getting to work.

    I am L15 and I’ve spent 10$. I know L16 agents that haven’t spent a cent.
    But I spent a LOT of money by going on the train, or bus, or anything. I even been some night out there, just to keep capturing portals the next day, and it isn’t cheap.

    Where is, exactly, the unfair advantadge of those who are paying from those who are not, from your POV?

    PD: I hope some day you realize how impossible it is to mantain servers, pay employees, organize events, pay the rent, and everything… All just under a FREE and Ad-Free app. Ridiculous.

    • It’s not about unfair advantage. It’s about Niantic “selling out”, especially in light of the explosive popularity of Pokémon Go and the fact that the location database we Ingress players created is used for PGo.

      Do I think the store gives paying players an advantage? No! If I did, this post would have been much more of a rant—pay2win is the bottom tier of mobile gaming. But I do object to the idea of unhackable items. Even if there was only a one-in-a-million chance to get a key locker or beacon from a hack, I’d be satisfied.

      If you think Ingress is ad-free, by the way, that’s a misconception. When Jamba Juice portals were in the game, they were paid to include those. Same for Zipcar. And what of the cross-promotions with Hint Water?

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