Uber, the disruptive (and controversial) ride-sharing service, has a real problem. If you want to corner the market on the backs of a global workforce of what are essentially freelancers, how do you ensure that they all know how to use your system? And, more importantly, how do you replenish your supply of willing Uber drivers.
The San Fransisco company thinks that a video game may be the answer. Called UberDrive, it will be available on the App Store for anyone who wants to take a virtual trip as an Uber driver.
“UberDRIVE is a compelling representation of what it’s like to be an Uber driver-partner on the platform,” said Mike Truong, a senior product manager at Uber, in a statement. “Through the course of playing the game you can get a sense of how much money you can make using your own car and driving on your own time. With the sign-up flow embedded directly into the game it makes it really easy to start the sign-up and screening process right then and there.”
The UberDrive game integrates Google Maps and Uber’s own backend routing system to let you choose the best routes for rides you’ve accepted in-game, just like the real Uber Partner app does. You’ll work your way from the standard UberX driver up through UberBlack and UberSUV tiers, tapping your way to success without having to deal with actual customers. Along your virtual routes, you’ll get points of interest and trivia to enliven the game. The app also emulates Uber’s surge pricing and uses the sounds from the real Uber Partner app, so you’ll have as authentic an experience as possible.
Uber hopes the game will attract new drivers as well as educate its current workforce. Still, while anyone can download it, the only city available in the game is San Francisco (natch) for now, unless Uber sees a larger audience engage in the game itself.
It’s hard to tell from a couple of screenshots whether this will be a compelling gaming experience, but anyone who’s wanted to try out the Uber driving experience without having to go through a vehicle and background check might give this one a shot.
The UberDrive app should become available soon in the iTunes App Store.