It’s no secret that mobile games are beginning to incorporate more social features, but Google is taking that idea to a new level with its alien adventure game “Ingress.” The search engine giant has just struck a partnership with Duane Reade that will allow it to hide game assets inside the pharmacy’s brick and mortar locations, bringing the game from your smartphone into the real world.
In the coming days, “Ingress” players will be able to explore Duane Reade stores to hunt for game assets. Each Duane Reade location will have a participation sticker outside as well, alerting gamers that collectibles from the game will be hidden inside. After finding the asset, players can scan its one-time use code to unlock in-game items or weapons, adding a live action scavenger hunt aspect to the game.
Companies such as Zipcar and Jamba Juice are already among Google’s partners for the AR-based game, creating an advertising strategy the game’s project lead John Hanke hopes to use as a means of combating traditional in-app banner ads, which he calls a “dead end” for mobile gaming.
“Ingress” is touted as an augmented reality gameplay experience in which users will have to collect “XM” (exotic matter) at various real-life locations with their smartphones. Players then spend that “XM” at various public locations, known as Portals, to unlock new missions. The game is currently in closed beta, and Google has yet to reveal when it will become commercially available. “Ingress” certainly seems like it could shake up the mobile gaming space, but we’ll be interested to see how many gamers are willing to run around their neighborhood rather than simply swiping touch screen controls.