What’s Google doing with gaming?
Late in 2012, Google worked with Niantic to create a game called Ingress (which means entrance). Ingress is described as a world in which two shadowy sides are vying for dominance: the Enlightened, who are trying to establish portals around the world that will let them control people’s minds, and the Resistance, who are trying to stop them. While it is more complicated than that, we all get the general idea.
So why would Google do this? There are many reasons, the first and foremost is money. On its face, the concept is seemingly awesome – open your free application, and try to capture portals placed in real space (within the game of course) and defend the portals you already have from being taken over from the other side. I believe the possibilities are much more, however, and here’s why.
Enormous amounts of map data – While playing the game you are using GPS data to transmit data to Google directly, while driving, walking, even correcting landmarks, and intersections. As a result of playing the game, the players actually do the work for Google, without even being asked. Brilliant, really, but even if Google came out and said in the terms of acceptance that “Google will use this data to improve its mapping function”, I really don’t think people would mind so much. We all want accurate maps, and we all depend on someone to get that data correct.
Here’s where I believe the concern will begin. When Ingress players realize that Google is not only capturing map data, they are collecting data about where you are going, how fast you travel there, how often you travel there. Furthermore, some things in the game require taking a picture of the landmark/spot/whatever. From all this data not only can Google sell it, they can extrapolate about where you live, work, and hang out.
We all know that Google loves data, and they turn that data into advertising dollars that makes the company rich. Companies that advertise want to know all they can about their audience, of course, and Google prides them in getting that information.
One may say that Ingress is only limited to a Gmail account, what harm could come from that? The problem is that Google can already tell a lot from just your Gmail account. Advertisers don’t care what your name is, they want to know where you live, where you work, how old you are and what you like or need to buy.
Therefore, if Google were to buy the company Foursquare, for example, they could simultaneously track millions of people, and their eating, shopping, working and home habits. In the game Ingress, for example, portals only exist in certain places, and they are the focus point of the game. What would Google charge a business, for example, to create a virtual portal at their location, forcing players to hang out there for at least 5 minutes at a time? Even more devious, if the target business was a restaurant who wants to drive more of a lunch crowd to their business, Google simply turns on a portal at the business and offers 10 times the amount of experience for arriving between the hours of 11 and 1.
I predict that Ingress will become more and more popular with (younger) people who do not care so much that they give up their private data in order to play a free game. Most young people of course have mobile phones, and do not care about the loss of privacy that Ingress offers, as long as it’s a fun experience.
Author Bio: The article is written by Jason Phillips. He writes specially for video games, web design and technology. He also loves playing games at site Motorbike Games 365. Apart he loves riding bikes.