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?