The internal Google startup that developed augmented reality massively multiplayer mobile game Ingress is being spun off from Google to be an independent company. In a post on Google+, developer Niantic Labs says it will continue with Ingress with new partners.
"Niantic Labs is becoming an independent company," the developer said. "We'll be taking our unique blend of exploration and fun to even bigger audiences with some amazing new partners joining Google as collaborators and backers. Niantic will be building on the success of Ingress, which has been downloaded more than 12M times, has attracted more than 250,000 people to live events around the world, and has inspired users to collectively walk the distance from the earth to the sun while playing, exploring and discovering."
Niantic Labs' split from the search giant comes two days after Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin announced Alphabet, a new holding company that includes Google and other Google-launched ventures like drone delivery company Wing and human longevity project Calico. For more on the Alphabet announcement, check out Vox's explainer.
Ingress launched on Android devices in 2013. An iOS version was released the following year.
In Ingress, players use their phones to complete missions requiring them to move between locations, collecting a virtual energy called "Exotic Matter," or XM. This energy is used for "portals," which are typically associated with public landmarks and spaces such as museums, galleries and monuments. Players can choose to associate with one of two factions: one that believes the energy will benefit mankind, and one that believes the energy should be destroyed.