Before it became famous for Pokemon GO, Niantic Labs, which at one point was also a Google property, tried to make a name for itself with Ingress, a mobile augmented reality sci-fi game. It had its share of fans but the high-concept game and almost unexciting mechanics made it a little difficult to get started and get hooked. Since then, the game has been “rebooted” and now has its own Netflix animated series that could help spark some interest in the game. Or at least offer fan service to its remaining players.
Ingress, both the first incarnation and the new Prime version, revolves around XM, short for exotic matter. It is a fictional type of energy invisible to the naked eye and can only be seen via the mobile app, of course. The game is basically a tug of war between two factions with opposing views on how XM should be used and the lore and metanarrative of Ingress is pretty much all about that.
Ingress the Animation takes that and puts a fantasy spin that’s simply not possible in-game. You have conspiracies and organizations behind the war for XM. It even spins Ingress, the game, itself as a sort of ploy to get regular humans to see XM and turn the tides of battle in favor of one side. There are sci-fi/supernatural elements like powers and, of course, plenty of explosions.
The series focuses on three particular humans that have been granted such powers by XM, something you don’t exactly get while playing the game. They become the key actors in that battle for XM that goes behind the scenes, unknown to most humans. It definitely paints a more exciting picture of a mobile game whose entire narrative happens just on a phone and in your mind which, in turn, could serve to interest more agents to join either side.
Despite its success with Pokemon GO, Niantic Labs has sought to return to its roots by relaunching Ingress Prime with the lessons it learned from its more popular game. At the same time, it is also trying to flex its muscles into more uncharted territory with the upcoming Harry Potter Wizards: Unite! AR game, which seems to already be garnering interest and positive feedback this early on.