Google’s Ingress to exit beta December 14

Image via Google

Google’s Niantic Labs announced a series of fresh developments today surrounding their geo-location augmented reality game, Ingress, including the news that the game will not only exit beta on December 14, but that Google has officially dropped the invitation code requirement, making the game available now to all Android users.

In addition, Ingress gamers who achieve level five or higher by the December 14 deadline will receive a one-time badge: The Founder Medal. This is a special achievement reserved for gamers who supported Ingress throughout the beta period.

[contextly_sidebar id=”d800dc0a3dc20996e569f88b2e5b101f”]Niantic Labs also announced a new nine-week, 39-city event, dubbed Operation #13Magnus, which will conclude December 14. But this isn’t any ordinary mission, as the top five agents from Monday, November 4 through the December 14 cutoff (measured by Ingress stats and social media submissions), will be flown to California in February 2014 for a series of top secret Ingress briefings, as these special agents will actually become part of the game’s storyline.

“We’re taking a big step, with our big end of beta event wrapping up December 14,” says John Hanke, Niantic Labs Founder. “We’re going to pick the top five agents from around the world, and then we’ll be flying them out for a behind-the-scenes tour, and a little behind-the-scenes with the Ingress Report, and we’ll try to get them on the show as well.”

Image via Google

The game, which already has over 1 million downloads and activations in beta alone, has grown globally much quicker than anyone expected, with gamers using their smartphones to track down virtual portals that appear in the game’s map, then hacking the portal by physically walking to the map point and triggering attacks from their Android device.

“We’re being played in well over 100 countries,” says Hanke. “We have people in Africa, China, Europe, South America, North America … it’s wild. Everyone is participating in this one global game, and I don’t think there’s ever been anything like it before.

“We’re kicking off a new story element to the game, which involves one of the game’s big bad guys, Jarvis. He split himself into 13 pieces, and these pieces are going to be found by players across the world in portals. People from around the world are going to need to move these elements of Jarvis to a final destination. So people from around the world are going to need to collaborate, using the game software to move the pieces to the final destination. The Resistance will be trying to collect these pieces and move them to a spot for them to be destroyed, while the Enlightened will be trying to help Jarvis put himself back together again … but that could have very bad consequences.”