Through a mobile app, available now on the App Store and Google Play, and a pocket-sized accessory called the Interceptor, Father.IO turns parks and other public outdoor spaces into virtual battlefields.
Developed by Proxy42, Father.IO offers team deathmatch or free-for-all gameplay, with up to 32 players able to join a game. Players can choose from four classes with different GPS-based abilities: Ammo crates for arming teammates, Medikits for healing allies, EMP for temporarily disabling enemies, and Claymore for dealing damage to a wide area. Four different weapons are available, including an assault rifle, a sniper rifle, a submachine gun, and a handgun, each with varying range, accuracy, rate of fire, and impact.
Connected via Bluetooth and attached to your smartphone using a universal mount, the Interceptor turns the player's smartphone into a virtual gun in this MMO version of laser tag, with an infrared sensor that can hit targets (or absorb shots) from 150 feet away with minimal lag. The device also sports LED lights to identify friend or foe. The Interceptor is available for pre-order via Indiegogo and is expected to ship within a month (January 2018), with availability on Amazon and Brookstone coming soon.
"We're excited to finally share Father.IO with the world," said Francesco Ferrazzino, CEO and founder of Proxy42, in a statement. "This whole journey feels like a dream and while we are proud of what Proxy42 has been able to accomplish so far, this is only the beginning. We will continue to innovate new ways to use AR and usher in a new era of gaming. Fair warning, once you play Father.IO, you'll never want to go back to your console."
The concept makes my trigger finger itchy, but the game has a number of challenges ahead of it. A game like this needs other players in the vicinity, particularly if there is no campaign mode. And, since it requires a $40 accessory, Father.IO has a higher cost of entry compared to most mobile games that give a game away for free then monetize through ads and in-app purchases. It also lacks the brand name that arguably helped to make Pokémon Go the success it is.
However, Based on the Proxy42's early funding efforts, Ferrazzino believes the company has a potential hit on its hands. Proxy42 raised nearly $500,000 through an Indiegogo campaign last year, selling more than 15,000 Interceptor units. The company went on to raise another $2 million in a strategic investment round led by Lenovo Capital and game publisher iDreamSky.
"We knew we had something special when we write the first lines of code for Father.IO," said Ferrazzino. "Our thoughts were confirmed when our Indiegogo campaign went viral and soared past its original goal. The entertainment world has been looking for something revolutionary since the original Doom revealed the possibilities of 3D gaming, and we believe that Proxy42 can use AR technology to show new ways you can play games."