Capabilities of company to handle future geolocation games in doubt
9 December 2015 - San Francisco, CA
In this writer's opinion, it would be worth reconsidering an investment based upon this company's ability to accurately determine the locations of players in an Augmented Reality game.
The globally popular game #Ingress , recently spun off by Google into a new entity (Niantic Labs http://www.nianticlabs.com/), has been plagued since that time with unscrupulous players "spoofing" - using techniques to falsely report their location in the world and the game.
At the same time, freelance "gear sites" have been selling pre-leveled accounts and in-game items through eBay and by directly advertising in the game's player-communication channels.
seems unable to effectively address these issues, and has not publicly acknowledged them as affecting gameplay. It's not clear if the issues persist because of staffing/resource limitations of a spin-off/start-up effort, or simply because of an inability to address the technical challenges. But in either case, there are reports of many long-time supporters reducing play or leaving the game entirely as a result. Alluding to the Ingress tag line, "It's TIme To Move" , one veteran player quipped, "Anyone who plays Ingress by actually moving now is a chump, it seems."
In New England, several players who frequently coordinate "fields" (virtual in-game triangles between different map locations) as part of the game have simply elected not to participate in a global fielding challenge that is part of an event series known as "Abaddon." Gameplay seems futile so some, as remotely-controlled accounts create and destroy "links" and "fields" - which are used for scoring the game regionally and globally.
An inquiry among players reveals dozens of incidents that have been reported through Niantic Labs' support channels: Players "appearing" in restricted military bases, on remote islands, and on mountaintops in the game - without actually being there. While some accounts have been disabled, others have not, and this appears to be a "cat and mouse" game between Niantic Labs and the rogue players. One "spoofer" recently declared in the game's public communication channel that the account being used was purchased as a "pre-leveled" account, and even provided an eBay link. That player's account remains active, and was recently used to place fields over the nation of Cuba.
The frustration among players is palpable. "I really just do not understand how Niantic can sit by and let this happen," fumed one, "They are alienating their most experienced and dedicated player base by allowing this. It's baffling."
Niantic Labs' CEO and Founder recently announced an effort; backed by an initial $20M in funding from Nintendo (NTDOY), the Pokémon Company, and Google (GOOG); to produce a mobile game in the popular Pokémon franchise called "Pokémon GO." There seems little doubt that the technology used for Ingress was a significant part of this decision, but it remains an open question if the new entity will have sufficient resources or technology to handle these challenges as effectively as it did previously, when it operated entirely as a resource within Google.
The possibility of a children's game ultimately dominated by cheaters, as appears to have happened with Ingress, is a prospect that should be of concern for any brand or investors.
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editorial Opinions represented are that of the author, and no other person or entity Copyright (C) 2015
#Niantic #Ingress #spoofing #game #Pokemon #Nintendo
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