Since we announced Swarm last week, hundreds of thousands of people have signed up to be notified when it launches. (Thank you!) We’ve also had a bunch of people ask what this means for the playful parts of Foursquare, like points, badges, and mayorships. We wanted to take a second to explain how they’re evolving.
First, a quick trip down memory lane. When we built Foursquare, the game mechanics were meant to do two things: help you learn how to use Foursquare, and help make your real-world experiences more fun. We never set out to make a ‘game.’ We wanted to make people’s experiences more fun and playful. Points gave you a way to measure how exciting your outings were; badges were to give you a sense of accomplishment; and mayorships allowed you to compete with your friends. We thought they were all fun ideas, but even we were surprised by how much people loved them.
Back in 2009 when we had 50,000 people using Foursquare, they were awesome. But as our community grew from 50,000 people to over 50,000,000 today, our game mechanics started to break down:
Points became arbitrary and less reflective of real-world achievement, because a check-in at a concert in Istanbul is really different than one at a dog park in New York (and the thousands of types of check-ins in between).
We created hundreds and hundreds of badges to appeal to different people around the world. Some of you want more, though we hear more often that badges stopped feeling special a long time ago.
Mayors were great when Foursquare was small and you were competing against your friends to rule the neighborhood coffee shop, but as more people signed up, earning a mayor crown became impossible.
So, when we set out to build Swarm, we spent a lot of time thinking about how to make your experiences more fun. Let’s talk for a minute about what you’ll find in Swarm:
Insights about your life. You guys have told us you love the little nuggets of insight we serve up after each check-in, like “Your 4th week in a row at your gym,” or “Your first time hanging out with Jason in 3 months.” These will continue to be an important part of Swarm.
Stickers. In the new Swarm, we built a bunch of stickers you can attach to your check-ins to quickly express how you feel or what you’re doing. (Don’t worry, they’re all free!) We’ll give you a few to start off with and, as you go out and explore the world, you’ll unlock more based on the places you visit. (Hint: try checking in at lots of different types of places to unlock new ones!)
Mayors 2.0. We wanted to get back to a fun way to compete with your friends instead of all 50,000,000 people who are on Foursquare. With these new mayorships, if you and a couple friends have been checking in to a place, the person who has been there the most lately gets a crown sticker. So you and your friends can compete for the mayorship of your favorite bar, without having to worry about the guy who is there every. single. day. Mayors 2.0 means that places can have many different mayors, one for each circle of friends, instead of just a single mayor at each place.
In the new Foursquare (coming this summer), we’ve also built the spiritual successor to badges. Badges were always meant to recognize and reward people who would seek out and find awesome things in the real world, and we found a great new way to do that. Stay tuned for more!
What happens today
To prepare for these new features, starting today, there will be no more ousting of mayors in the Foursquare app. This’ll help make way for mayors 2.0 in Swarm. The Foursquare app, for the time being, will continue to show the mayor as of today, frozen in place. The list of proud mayorships you hold will continue to be displayed on your profile.
In Swarm, mayors 2.0 is based on the same 60-day historical window, so if you’re mayor of a place where you and your friends go now, you’ll be mayor amongst your friends in the new app. Starting next week with the release of Swarm, you’ll get access to stickers, mayors 2.0, streaks, and all the other surprises. And all your hard-earned badges will continue to live on in your Foursquare trophy case.
The new Swarm was designed to be a fun and fast way to keep up and meet up with your friends. After you download Swarm next week, let us know what you think here. We’ve been playing with it for months, and are so excited for you to play with it, too.