Creator of Google’s augmented reality games assures its experiments with augmented reality games may become a convention before the end of the year, at South by Southwest today. Ingress, a conspiracy sci-fi game that combats with groups with one another for control of real-world landmarks virtually, continues to grow even after two years. The game has been downloaded more than 10 million times and regular meetups conducted by Google’s Niantic Labs division are pulling in thousands of people.
The good reach of the game bases why Niantic is now planning a convention, John Hanke, the former Google Maps executive who heads Niantic. Hanke also spoke about scaling up the meetup for players at the end of the panel where he spoke with James Frey, the author with whom Niantic is joining on an Ingress-like game called Endgame that is related to a series of books co-authored by Frey. He also mentioned that “nothing is set in stone,” but a convection was ‘likely.’ When asked for additional details, he denied to mention any.
Similar conventions help for players of Minecraft and Eve Online has inspired the Ingress team, Hanke said. And various meetups being held around in-game events are already attracting convention-sized crowds. Around 5000 people attended a recent event at Tokyo, Hanke said, and another event in Kyoto this month is expected to attract a crowd of similar number.
Ultimately, Google hopes to create a platform for location-based gaming with the help Ingress model. The fact that Ingress is still able to attract large crowds even two year after its launch suggest the company may be on to something and not just one among the ten – and a convention would be only the latest indication that it’s working.