Is Swarm the De-Gamification of Foursquare?

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Swarm collects friends, not badges.
Swarm collects friends, not badges.

Foursquare's new Swarm app launched unceremoniously last week as it went live in Google Play and the App Store, signaling what may be a cooling-down of people's infatuation with gamification.

The Swarm app focuses on social contact, letting users check into locations—as with the original app—but also lets them identify their general locales so friends can find them and vice versa. Mayorships of locations will be awarded to the person who's been there the most in a given timeframe, and users can attach emotive stickers to their check-ins. A “spiritual successor” to badges will be introduced during the summer, according to a Foursquare blog.

The original Foursquare app will live on, as will the in-app advertising opportunities it provides to marketers. Swarm—at least initially—will be ad-free, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley told in an interview published in May.

Foursquare's app mitosis is a side effect of the user stagnation confronting all apps and social networks. The app grew from 50,000 five years ago to 50 million, but its activity has flatlined at 6 million check-ins a day for the past year.

In the blog introducing Swarm, Foursquare acknowledged that check-in points had become arbitrary and “less reflective of real-world achievement,” earning mayorships had become nigh-on impossible as subscriber numbers swelled, and that “badges stopped feeling special long ago.”


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