8 Location Based Games for Android and iOS (besides Ingress)

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Using real world maps, locations and objectives in a game can make the progression and achievements feel more palpable, and even more satisfying to a certain degree. Location based games are a rather small niche, but look at the multicultural Ingress community and it’s easy to see there’s no shortage of people willing to play such games.

Speaking of, Ingress is certainly one of the most successful GPS-based games that uses augmented reality to transform real world locations into in-game objectives. Less than a month ago, Ingress received support for Android Wear which is great because it’s very playable from the wrist, but what other such games are worth taking a look at?

If you ever looked into the genre, you probably already heard of Ingress, or perhaps you’re a long time player searching for a decent alternative. Today’s roundup includes a variety of GPS-based games, some of which involve a lot of moving around (by whichever means you prefer), while others require just lifting your finger (literally).

Zombies, Run! (Android, iOS)

Price: Free with IAPs

Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run! is without a doubt one of the most popular GPS-based games. I know they call this a fitness app, but I think this description doesn’t do it justice. It definitely has a strong emphasis on fitness, but don’t think it lacks a story. If a horde of virtual zombies breathing down your neck won’t make you run, then nothing will.

The audio adventure is a great way to become more active, but it’s definitely not for everyone. It went free to play a few months back, although it’s not the kind you could actually play for free indefinitely. However, if this concept motivates you into becoming a consistent runner (it works for many people), it’s certainly worth buying a monthly membership.

With that said, beginners might want to go for Zombies, Run! 5K Training (Android, iOS) instead since this particular fitness app/game is designed as an 8-week running program that will get you back into shape.

Resources Game (Android)

Price: Free with IAPs

Resources Game

I have to admit, I’ve always been drawn to the economical aspect of games (where there was one, of course) and that’s probably why I find myself more attracted to this game than the rest from this roundup. Resources Game is a GPS-based massively-multiplayer economic simulation game, in which you have to scan your surroundings in the real-world to find resources, then extract and use them to manufacture new products to sell. In other words, your smartphone will become a resource scanner and wherever you happen to find some attention-worthy deposits you can build a mine on top of them and start the extraction process.

But since this is a multiplayer game after all, competition might show up every now and then. Other players will annoyingly build in your area and even steal your land. The game has it all figured out as you can hire workers to expand your power and even attack the mines of other players (with some risks of course).

Resources Game is quite complex so it’s definitely not a game for children but incredibly fun for us grown-ups. The community seems quite enthusiastic, and the game receives regular updates, so check it out if you want a location-based game focused on economy.

Geocaching (Android, iOS)

Price: Free, Paid ($9.99)

Geocaching

Geocaching is what stands at the core of many location based games. It lacks a story, but the simple concept is undeniably attractive: community members can go search for hidden containers called geocaches placed by other members in various locations all across the world.

The Geocaching community is huge, so if you download the app and look on the map, you’ll probably find a few caches near you. And there are multiple types of geocaches in various difficulties (some can be hard to reach and/or cleverly hidden), so there are always new challenges to take on.

The paid apps offer access to all types of caches and search filters among other perks, but if you’re new to this, the free basic app called Geocaching Intro  (Android, iOS), makes a great place to start.

Parallel Kingdom (Android, iOS)

Price: Free with IAPs

Parallel Kingdom

Parallel Kingdom takes the real world map, as provided by Google Maps, and transforms it into a medieval land with dungeons and castles. There are 40 levels, various classes, dungeons, PvP, leaderboards, events, chat rooms and other features characteristic to MMOs.

You can definitely play this game without venturing outside your home, but it does translate your real-world location into the game. Go outside in your backyard, to work, or to visit a friend and you’ll end up in different areas of the game, with unexpected critters and enemy players.

There’s plenty of stuff to do in Parallel Kingdom since this augmented reality game has been around for a while. However, it hasn’t received an update since fall last year (even further for iOS) so it looks semi-abandoned for now. Here’s hoping the devs won’t give up on it.

SpecTrek (Android)

Price: Free / $2.49

SpecTrek

SpecTrek is an augmented reality ghost hunting game that basically makes you chase imaginary ghosts in the real world. You can play 15-minute, 3-hour or 8-hour games. Ghosts are projected on a Google map in a predetermined or user-defined search radius. Short story: You’ll never get closer to being a ‘Ghost Buster’ than you could by playing this game.

The goal here is to get to the location of each ghost and catch them, so it can be really fun to play this with friends or your kids. It’s not a fitness app, but there is a progress tracker, where you can see traveled distance, speed and burned calories.

While SpecTrek managed to achieve a certain level of popularity, this is another GPS-based game that’s not getting too much attention from its developers these days. Even so, chasing ghosts in the real world can be fun (at least for a while), so  give the free version SpekTrek Light a try, and let us know if you like it.

Parallel Mafia (Android, iOS)

Price: Free with IAPs

Parallel Mafia

Developed by PerBlue, the same team behind Parallel Kingdom, it’s easy to guess this game is using the same concept, although in a futuristic mafia-ruled world, where only the strongest survive.

Just like in real-life, becoming a powerful mobster requires building safe houses and business fronts, as well as taking over territories. Once again, the game’s world is overlaid on the map and centered around your GPS location. Travelling in the game can be done by knowing a real player in that location or physically going there yourself.

There’s plenty Parallel Mafia can offer: turf wars, business management, trading, manufacturing and team-play are some of the main elements that can let you have many hours of fun. However, it has the same problem like Parallel Kingdom – the lack of updates, which is hopefully only temporary.

Turf Wars (Android, iOS)

Price: Free with IAPs

Turf Wars

Turf Wars is similar to Parallel Mafia (or the other way around), as its mafia-based theme requires players to physically travel in order to virtually claim real world territories. The Google Maps-powered game is all about the mobster mentality, so you’re basically going to have to play wisely, especially when you go against, older and more powerful crime lords.

Turf Wars also includes a variety of missions, and the money you earn can be used to hire muscle and purchase weapons for your turf. You can also invite other players into your mob – a tool through which great strategic alliances can be made. Since Turf Wars has managed to become fairly popular over the years (especially on iOS), it has a more than decent community that keeps the game entertaining.

Landlord (iOS)

Price: Free with IAPs

Landlord

I’m really not surprised someone though of superimposing the Monopoly game onto the real world map – the combination makes for an interesting location-based game, which works quite well.

There are 50 million venues all around the world that can be virtually purchased in-game. Landlord is using Facebook and Foursquare APIs (so you’ll need an account on either service to play it) making it possible to buy any supported location you visit in the real world. It also tracks check-ins from other people at those properties which is how you earn rent.

Of course, upgrades and portfolio management a la Monopoly are all there, so as long as you make the right investments, you have good chances at becoming a tycoon in this game.

I think GPS-based games are mostly ignored for now, at least by developers. Looking at popular titles like Zombies, Run! and Ingress It’s clear we have an extensive market for such games, but given the fact most of them make you get up and physically move, there’s little room for error in terms of development.

For this reason, I’ve come across many other titles, which are either abandoned or rough, unfinished products because they simply lacked the immersion people require from location-based games – everything is “more” real and so are the technical errors, bad design and lack of content. But enough whining – check them out, try a few, and then come back and share your thoughts with us? Have you found a favorite in this roundup? What other cool GPS-based games do you know?

Looking for more awesome mobile games? Check out our Roundups section for our carefully handpicked collections. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flipboard and Google+ to receive our latest mobile how tos, and apps & games reviews for Android, iOS and Windows Phone !

  • Kevin Kruse

    Alexandra,
    Thanks for providing visibility to location based apps. I love the fact that they get you outside and help you discover places you’d typically have no other reason to visit. There is one other game that I would like to mention. Geo Ballistic for Android. This game is location-based but can be played from one position. It allows you to play in real-time against players from all over the world. I believe it is completely unique. I’d be interested to know if there are any others like it. As far as I can tell I invented this sub-genre of location-based games 🙂
    Kevin

  • Donavan

    Saddened…. none of these are an alternative to nature of Ingress. So many reasons one would play it, fitness, finding unique places, working with teams of friends for a common goal, revenge on opponents for things they’ve done to your work, and earning all sorts of honors along the way. All great elements bottled up in a simple game. No matter what city or town worldwide that you visit, there are things to do. At the same time, it has loopholes and ways to cheat, and thus can make enemies even of friends. The one thing I’d love to see is an ingress type game, where you visit locations, do various things with an object of interest, and get rewards and badges for various achievements, but without a competitive element.

    • Thibault Molleman

      It’s been more than 2 years since you left this comment. Have you found such an app? (I’m an ingress player as well but would like something different for once). (I wanna focus on running trough my town and doing stuff)

      • It’s been two weeks since you posted and two months since I started searching a viable replacement for those two. Nothing accesible at this moment has sense.

  • Ola Bratt

    If you are into it for the fitness checkout “Runners Frontier”, very intense and with realtime multiplayer support. https://itunes.apple.com/app/id1080089862

  • Holger Muegge

    Thanks for this nice shortlist of location-based games!

    I’d like to mention AgentX – a team based urban chase. Up to five teammates hunt Agent X whose position is updated only every some minutes. On your way you find gadgets that allow you to disturb and hamper your opponents. It is quite funny to view the game afterwards with all mates and discuss the strategic key points. It is a really thrilling and sportive game.

    AgentX game can even be played with large groups and can be live viewed via browser.

    We developed that game already some years ago (originally in cooperation with Ravensburger AG and Deutsche Telekom) but just recently have published a new version for iOS and Android worldwide.

    Here you find more info and download links: https://agent-x-game.com/en/

    Find Agent X on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/agent.x.game

  • Nick Quirk

    Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.zaploot.app
    iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/zaploot/id1124495036

    Go on a Fun Scavenger Hunt With the New GPS Game Zaploot – Collect loot and redeem gold for gift cards

  • There’s a new kid in the block PetsAttack
    https://PetsAttack.com
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.petsattack.android&hl=en

    It is a game where you Create your barn in your real geographical location or any location of your choosing on the real world map. Cooperate with thousands of players in real time and begin Pets Attacks & Battles. Trade with worldwide markets in real cities on the world map to bring different types of food and vaccines to your Pets. Increase your Pets count and variety. Free ,Light, Multiplayer Web Browser Strategy Game. No registration flow needed, just login with your Google Account. Available from your Desktop, Tablet, Mobile, or any device connected to the Internet.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/25f96137d66ff281c65e7a3ca7a1e08799bb2adca1ed0bb5e54cc849a5c421c5.png
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5244161440ecfaa00b26df16e546b82fb422a6a57ba24d6cad7d644286db241e.png

  • Steve

    https://plus.google.com/communities/104789511477582937277
    This game appears to be like ingress. That said, it looks like it has way more to do, I liked ingress but it got stale pretty quickly unless I wanted to drive city to city 100+ miles every time I wanted to do something besides farm for bursters. I didn’t get to check out the alpha but from what I hear through gamer communities is that Alpha T solves the rural player problem of never having enough stuff near you. I believe you set up your own bases & just have to hold them from the enemy & decaying rather than anything permanent….the only catch is that beta doesnt start until June. 4 factions, not a huge community yet from what I gather, but i figure once the beta is out the world will spread a little more. And since its still in the startup stages the devs actually respond & they take suggestions from those who got into the alpha testing. I’m not trying to get to hyped about it, but so far I think it has great potential. Look into it if you’re looking for a location based game you can get into & stick with http://deltatgame.com/

    • I saw a shitload of projects that did not walk out of beta or died quickly after it.
      I hope this one won’t belong to them, because it looks promising. By some measures it looks like a straight Ingress rip-off, but it’s the differences that matter.

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