Ingress and it’s barrier to entry

Google has an excellent reputation for server uptime and reliability. They pride themselves on making processes so efficient that hundredths of seconds after a request is sent the answer. As a result of their very high work ethic and desire to excel logic would indicate that Niantic labs would follow the same work ethic and strive for the same quality of service.

Over the last few months of game play I have found they resemble an early twitter. Loading the game for the first time of the day can take several attempts, loading the inventory can be unreliable, charging portals can be unreliable and sometimes trying to do any action can fail 70 to 80 percent of the time for several hours in a row.

Unreliability is perfectly normal for web services. They are pushing the envelope and they need to find ways to do new things and prevent bottle necks. Twitter had severe issues for months and so did many other services.

A few people say that Ingress is a free game, that because it is free we shouldn’t worry about unreliable actions.

Ingress is not a free game. At the very least it takes a lot of time to play such a game. Levelling up can take progressively longer going from hours from the first levels to months or even years for the higher levels.

There are a number of costs associated with Ingress:

A smartphone:
A local data plan
International roaming plan
A battery pack
A car or other form of transport
petrol
parking space
Hotel rooms

You also have to consider whether you live in a village or a town or city. If you live in a village you may have to travel to another village several kilometres before you can play the game. I created the account but did not play until several months later due to a lack of local portals. Towns and cities have a lot of portals so this is a city slicker game.

If you drive half an hour, from the country side to a city to play the game and when you arrive at your destination and the game is laggy then you have wasted money on petrol, you have wasted time on driving and you have to wait until the next weekend to play.

As I have said lag and server issues are part of online life. From 1996 to 2015 I have grown accustomed to these problems and have no issues. I am less forgiving of companies whose policies make servers issues worse. Niantic labs is making mistakes. They created a new badge to encourage people to sign up more accounts which resulted in more server stress and a degraded quality of service. They then encouraged people to make mega fields which the servers can’t deal with. We have seen that every single time a megafield is created the game suffers for periods of time ranging from a few minutes to a few hours. Yesterday agents created a 6880km link which resulted in a degraded quality of service for hours afterwards.

If Niantic labs and the story line continue encouraging actions that Ingress servers cannot cope with then I will see my passion for the game degrade further. My willingness to drive 40 minutes to participate in activities will vanish.

I am not picking on Niantic labs and ingress. I have seen twitter have problems, I have seen facebook have problems. I have seen Seesmic have issues. I have seen suunto movescount have issues. I have let each of these companies know that I expect more.

I will only continue using an unreliable service as long as I don’t find a better alternative.

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