Pokemon GO took off with insane momentum with its launch in July 2016. Crowds of people young and old staring at their phones more than usual and walking around in an apparent trance sliding their screens. But by the fall of 2016, many of the players had become bored or discouraged. Some reports suggested that 33% or more of the original players had dropped out and stopped going to the “gym,” so to speak.
Many don’t know that Pokemon GO was launched by a company that has had another successful augmented reality game running since 2012. That’s right, Niantic Labs, which started as an internal startup at Google and later became its own entity, produced a fun and somewhat popular AR game called Ingress years before Pokemon GO. Ingress started with a small release that was invite-only and Android only and then started expanding with 500,000 players reported in 2013, then 2 million in 2014, and then Niantic reported 7 million players in 2015. Hard to find, though. Numbers updated now, there are still over 4.5 million subscribers to the Ingress Google+ community, and many avid gamers.
Therefore, I say that Niantic can learn a few things to improve Pokémon GO from their other Ingress game. The two are already tied up. Most of the pokestops and gyms in Pokémon GO are located in the well-mapped “portals” of the Ingress game. In fact, I already suggested in a sarcastic post on my own blog that we can blame the Enlightened faction of Ingress for the appearance of Pokémon. If you’d like to read more about that, just do a search for “Pokemon GO: I Blame the Enlightened” (those of you who have played Ingress will know that the Enlightened were always trying to welcome XM’s strange anomalies and open the portals to allow mysterious forces to reach earth, while the Resistance was trying to protect earth from some alien force entering our realm).
5 login features that would benefit Pokémon GO
1) An intelligence map: Ingress has a map available to all players around the world that shows each portal and which team owns it. You can zoom into your local streets and see which portals are open, which ones have been taken over by your enemy, and which ones your team still owns. Imagine if you could check out this for Pokémon gyms and stalls that you might not know exist.
2) Notifications and in-game chat: Ingress allows you to chat with teammates and enemies within the game, and see updates when a portal is under attack. This could be fun in Pokémon.
3) Possibility of exchanging items with other players.: Have you ever run out of revives, potions or pokeballs? Imagine if you could borrow something from your teammates in the heat of battle instead of having to walk around and find pokestops to stock up. In Ingress, you can drop items for other players, as they have a 12-hour disintegration clock, and therefore if they are not collected, they disappear from the scanner map. The only problem is that opponents can grab them too. So you need to be cunning. But this method would be great for freeing up space in your backpack or storage from time to time. Another option is an NPC in gyms who stores trades for you or a team member.
4) Shields and protection: In Ingress you can collect shields and weapon items that help protect your portals by altering the effectiveness of attacks, or even turrets that attack the opposing team’s players when they get too close to a portal. This could be tweaked a bit so that Pokémon Go adds extra difficulty to gym battles or perhaps causes the scanner to display incorrect information for a period of time, etc. There are many options. Maybe one could be a Team Rocket sabotage when 3 or more opponents try to take over a gym.
5) Community events: Ingress has big events in key cities and locations where teams come to compete or complete tasks in the area in a set period of time. It creates a lot of community and strategic planning and it would be interesting if something similar could carry over to Pokémon GO. I imagine an area of a city with dense pokestops and gyms. In-game prizes would be offered to the team that performs tasks like, taking over 5 gyms for your team, raising them to level 6, and making the pokeman King of all gyms a Vaporean. The first team to do so gets bonus coins and potions or evolves rare or something like that.