Not quite strong enough to stand on their own, the future of augmented reality games lies in ties to other media. At least, that's the plan that Niantic Labs appears to be pursuing.
As development continues on Ingress, Niantic's first offering which recently left beta, the quasi-independent startup within Google on Wednesday announced its next game: Endgame, a partnership with author James Frey's Full Fathom Five production company and publisher HarperCollins. Author Nils Johnson-Shelton is co-writing the books with Frey.
Details are light so far, but the game will tie into the young adult trilogy of novels and its related ancillary stories, told through novellas, YouTube videos, social media, and image search results.
To help attract attention, each game attached to its respective novel will come with a big prize. The first book, "Endgame: The Calling," will offer up in public a display case with a currently unknown quantity of gold in it. Solving the puzzle of the game will offer players a key to unlock the case, with plans to livestream the event on YouTube.
"James has a great vision for telling stories in an integrated way across books, film, social media, and mobile games," John Hanke, vice president of product for Niantic Labs, said in a statement. "We are delighted to bring our technology and expertise to bear on a project that is helping to define the future of entertainment."
The game will launch later in 2014, likely timed to the debut of the novel, which is expected to be published on October 7. While the novels are expected to be simultaneously published in 30 languages around the world, there's no word on how many countries the game will be playable in. Details on the game itself are light, except that it will launch on Android and iOS, and the e-novellas will be sold through the Google Play Store.