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Foursquare was never intended to be a game. The original game mechanics were meant to be a short-term and fun onboarding process to get people comfortable with checking in. As million of people downloaded the app and started checking in, a weird thing happened. Even after months, they still loved the game. Like, really really reeaaally loved the game.
I’ve been working at Foursquare since 2010, in both Business Development and Product roles. I’ve checked in just about everywhere — logging over 4,700 check-ins! But even my interest started to fade when Swarm launched in May 2014. Checking in just wasn’t as fun as it used to be.
But that was totally by design.
Swarm was spun out of Foursquare as a utility to help users keep up and meet up. It was a technical feat; passive location sharing with little battery drain, smart notifications when friends were nearby, and lightweight messaging tools. Swarm matured into a powerful social utility, while shedding its playfulness that made checking in fun and rewarding.