Farewell from a Vanguard
Today is a hard day. Today I have to walk away from a game I love, a role in the game I cared about, a position which used to mean something and make a difference. Over the past two years as a Vanguard, I have worked hard to support the player communities of Ingress. I have helped people report cheating, problem-solved bad behavior in communities, helped Niantic roll back cheating actions on over 1000 portals, and offered feedback on many decisions about events and gameplay. We never thought Niantic was a perfect company. In the earlier years, Niantic’s mismanagement of events was viewed with bemusement but acceptance, and players picked up the slack and built incredible events where literally thousands of people came together to play hard and have fun. Addition of the Vanguard program, portal resets, and improving communication from our GCM gave many of us the sense that Niantic did actually care about the players, and wanted to improve the game experience for us.
We had a GCM who cared, a GCM who recognized a problem and reached out to a cross-faction player group to try to fix issues. It worked; for two years, we had a group of enlightened and resistance players who looked past faction to do what was right for the game. Were we perfect? Of course not, but we did the best we could, and with the assistance of Andrew Krug, we drove meaningful change in the game. We gave players a voice, we gave players the ability to counteract cheating, and we helped solve real issues. Sadly, Niantic decided to go down a path with this game I can no longer support. They hired a producer who chose to change the game in a way that we the Vanguards advised him not to do. Many of the things you see we advised not to do and if they felt the need to do it then give advance notice. We were ignored and quite clearly shown what our new role under this new leadership would be. I have been genuinely baffled by the decisions that Niantic has made. They have driven their core player base from the game with these decisions and continue down a path that I can not and will not follow.
The magic of this game has been lost through mismanagement and game failures. There is no way to recapture this magic, the thing about Ingress we all loved, the adventures, the battles, and the pure exhilaration you get when you achieve something as a faction or as a team. I tried to hold on and help with the transition when Andrew left, but after two months, I no longer feel that Niantic cares about the long term sustainability of this game. They are happy to squeeze every last dime out of what is left of the player base and exploit the player base for more API for the games “that make money” for them. I have lost confidence that Niantic has the capacity to keep Ingress alive. I do not now, nor have I ever, seen a coherent game plan to restore the luster to this pioneering game. I do not see a cohesive plan to make Ingress a viable game for Niantic, because the proposed changes will continue to drive players away. I do not see a company that understands that you can monetize a game to ****, and at some point, the number of players you have driven away destroys any monetization plans you have. I do not see a company that understands much of anything about how successful player-run events work. I do not see a company willing and able to invest in the resources needed to run a successful game like Ingress. I have given a truly uncountable number of hours of my life to serving the players of this game, and honestly, to serving Niantic. For free. I think there are some truly dedicated, thoughtful, and kind people who work for Niantic, and I appreciate their efforts to hold things together through some very rough weather. I do not have confidence in Niantic as a company, however. I do not have confidence in the current producer's ability to effect positive change in the game or accept and listen to the advice of players who are active in the game and care deeply about this game we have all grown to love. I have reached a point where I do not feel that I can continue in good faith to serve as a Vanguard because of my lack of confidence in the company and because I am frankly exhausted by the last few years.