Niantic Inc’s Ingress now has a virtual storefront, selling in-game items to players in exchange for real currency. The feature appears to be gradually rolling out to users.
The store is available through the Ingress scanner app’s OPS menu, and runs from an in-game virtual currency called “Chaotic Matter” (a close cousin to the Exotic Matter around which much of the game’s plot focuses). Players exchange real money for CMU (Chaotic Matter Units) which can then be spent on in-game items.
There are currently three classes of item available: the Portal Fracker costs 2,400 CMU and doubles hack output for 10 minutes or 150 hacks (whichever comes first), which makes it most useful in group farming situations; the Key Locker costs 3,700 CMU and allows agents to store keys outside of their 2000-item inventory cap, although only 100 at a time; and beacons cost 1,300 CMU for a 3-pack and are in-game signs that appear above portals for 4 hours.
There are 5 different coloured Key Lockers available, although I suspect the blue and green Lockers will be the most popular, and there’s also a pack available with all 5 colours for 14,900 CMU, a nice saving over individual purchases. Notably, there’s a limit of 5 Key Lockers per account, so if you buy a single Key Locker as I did, you won’t be able to buy the 5-pack.
Beacons are an interesting new addition to the game that are visible to all players. They hover above a portal for 4 hours regardless of its state, flickering in an appropriately Tron-like way, and can be used to highlight notable portals … or, they could be left behind as calling cards when agents neutralise important enemy portals.
Four beacons are currently available – Resistance and Enlightened faction signs, target and meetup symbols.
To play with the new items, you’ll need to exchange some money for Chaotic Matter Units. The current going rates in Aussie dollars:
- 2,500 CMU = $2.74
- 7,000 CMU = $6.88
- 15,000 CMU = $13.77
- 32,000 CMU = $27.55
- 90,000 CMU = $68.92 and
- 200,000 CMU = $137.86
Unless you’re planning to buy a lot of Portal Frackers or Beacons, the higher CMU value purchases are currently probably of little use, since you can only hold 5 Key Lockers, but this seems likely to be only the start of the items available from the Ingress Store.
Notably, there’s also a web store coming – shop.ingress.com has been up and running for a little while but remains closed to the public. It’s currently unknown whether it’ll reflect the in-game storefront or if it will finally offer Ingress-related merchandise to the game’s millions-strong worldwide audience. We’ll have to wait and see.
The store is Niantic’s first attempt at monetising Ingress through direct purchases from players. Previous efforts have centered on corporate-sponsored in-game items such as AXA Shields, MUFG Capsules and Softbank Ultra Links along with promotions run in conjunction with companies like Hint Water, Anker and Zipcar. Whether there’s a connection between the store and Niantic’s depature from its Google origins (Google and Nintendo are now the company’s big investors) remains to be seen.
What items would you like to see added to Ingress’ in-game store? Tell us in the comments!