Does Niantic care about the Ingress customer experience?
Does Niantic ever say, "We shouldn't do that because it's a bad customer experience", "We need to fix this quickly because it's a bad customer experience", or anything of the sort? I'm fairly certain that the answer is no. Here are some examples that spring to mind, and how I would have handled them if I was King of Ingress:
Lag: We've had bad lag, intermittently, for... a year? More? This feels like a "time no longer exists" situation. It's gotten somewhat better but as of today I was still experiencing deploy lag that was bad enough that it impacted my gameplay. If I was in charge of Ingress I would have stopped other development and thrown the whole team on it, and probably attempted to borrow senior talent from another team to do a deep dive so that we could address the issue as quickly as possible. I well and truly grok complex, multi-faceted issues but even those should not persist more than a few weeks.
The recent Android sound bug: We all know about this one, I think-- in a a recent release sound was on when the app was started even if you had sounds disabled. This was annoying, and occasionally embarrassing for someone who started the app expecting it to behave like it always did. I would have done a patch release and pushed it to the Play Store ASAP rather than waiting a couple of weeks. Expecting users to take extra steps every time they started the app makes the company look bad, especially for something that was probably a trivial fix. I would have identified and closed the testing gaps that allowed this to happen.
Store items on the carousel: Anyone who played Ingress a lot would have immediately understood that this is a horrible idea that would impact gameplay and provide no real benefit to players, and for the love of all that is good and right in the world I absolutely wouldn't have made this change before the first big anomaly in years. I would have listened to that one person in the meetings who said "this is going to annoy users more than it's worth."
New photos don't appear: Why should user bother to improve photos if their work is just going to disappear into the void? I would prioritize this lower than the other issues above but would make sure it was fixed and that the backlog synced to Ingress within a few weeks. I would also ensure that sync issues were detectable by introducing some test wayspots that got new test images added daily, and creating monitors that alarmed when the images on the test wayspots were > 2 days old in Ingress. I would ensure that this was a standard part of every new game.
Most or all of these issues should have been caught internally before they made it into production. Each of them should have a post-mortem to identify the technical and process gaps that allowed them to get to users, and there should be mandatory follow-up items to close those gaps so that the company doesn't make the same mistakes in the future. Mistakes should always be new and interesting. (-:
When a company's revenue is in nine+ figures it's no longer a startup, and it needs to stop acting like one. It's occasionally cute when toddlers draw all over the walls with magic markers, but past a certain age that behavior is just not tolerated. The same is true for companies. Both entities go through awkward growth phases while they learn how to act like an adult but at some point they need to just step up and do it.