What Happened to the Game Mechanics in foursquare?

EnGaming’s Note: If you are a foursquare user, or have been following gamification, you should know that foursquare had lost many users who simply don’t care about being the mayor anymore. As a result, it forced foursquare to re-think its strategy, and here it is, “RTE” or Right Time Experiences. RTE basically means delivering the right experience at the right time. So…What’s foursquare doing with RTE? well, Ivan Kuo from did a post to tell you just that! Thanks Ivan!

via Ivan Kuo, | Image Source: link

In the beginning everybody fought to be the mayor of their favorite Foursquare hangout but over time the buzz surrounding the social media app seemed to have waned as many users simply stopped caring about the game’s badges and check-ins.

To combat their shrinking market influence, leaders at Foursquare recently unveiled a new design and strategy that put less emphasis on game mechanics and more focus on social updates, deals and user generated recommendations.

Executives at the company have been quite up front about how Foursquare’s new design was birthed out of user’s feedback and recommendation. In fact, this has resulted in the company’s decision to rebuild their platform from the ground up. Simply put, the changes users were asking for could not be done within the framework of the old Foursquare. So they started over.

What Foursquare users will now find is a simplified app focused more on content that is tailored to a user’s current location.  At the heart of the new app is the new “Explore” tab. This new recommendation service combines the excitement of local and social discovery by incorporating data such as the time of day, popularity of nearby places, past check-ins of linked friends… and even existing weather conditions. All of this data is factored in the background and used to provide a set of recommendations without much effort on the user’s part. Basically, all you need to do is open the app and hit the “Explore” tab and brace yourself for the wow-factor!

What Foursquare is attempting to deliver on is what Maribel Lopez of Forbes Magazine calls Contextual Connections or Right Time Experiences (RTE). Lopez recently wrote, “People seem to intuitively understand a right time experience. The next phase of mobility is about delivering on the promise of more meaningful and relevant communications. Leading businesses will use mobile, big data and the new business intelligence tools to drive differentiation with right time experiences that are based on context.”

The overall app has been pared down from five tabs to now just three. Within the app, recommended venues for a user are plotted on Google Maps and once a venue has been selected a new feature allows users to drill down into venue information; tagged venue images, current deals, visitor generated tips and reviews. Old mayors may be sad to find their gamified badges on the bottom of the new page, while more social, call-to-action, buttons for check-ins have been prominently relocated to the top right of the screen.

User’s should be happy with this slick new app and hopefully their renewed interest will translate into better engagement data for Foursquare and its ad partners. What are your thoughts? Will ditching gamification elements for contextual connections keep Foursquare in the social media game? Or has Foursquare failed to keep up and thus allowed their right time experience to pass them by?

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– Mayor No More-

Round One Collection (10/14)

Unlocked by “What Happened to the Game Mechanics of Foursquare?”, Collect all Badges and win our mystery gift boxes! (Waaaht is this?…)

4 Responses to “ What Happened to the Game Mechanics in foursquare?”

  1. I think this example shows very much that gamification with only badges and leaderboards is way to simple for such a complex being as we humans are. So Foursquare made the great experience (even if they learned it the painful way) that sustainable gamification needs to offer a real service and support to their users instead of just giving points and badges. I recently wrote about this sustainable gamification ( and am looking forward to your feedback. Thx for posting this great example!
    May the force be with you,

  2. Thanks Chris, we will check out your blog too 🙂

    • looking forward to a comment 🙂 or maybe you want to suggest or vote for topics I should write about 😉 Thx 4 always sharing such interesting articles!
      May the force be with you,


  1. Gamify later or Why Gamification needs to be rethought « On the light side of gamification - July 6, 2012

    […] They now changed the design completely and I think they are getting one step closer to the light side now. You can read the whole story here. […]

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