Since the release of Foursquare‘s new App Swarm last week, there has been a vocal minority of existing users complaining about the removal of gamification from the service. There are numerous complaints on the Foursquare Facebook page, and a petition at Change.org has 350 signatures at last count. In short, many existing users are unhappy.
At first, I couldn’t understand why so many people were upset to lose badges, mayors and points. I’d felt they’d run their course. I wasn’t that concerned to lose them. However, having used Swarm for the last couple of weeks, I’ve discovered that checking in is just not as fun as it was in Foursquare. Without badges, points and mayorships it feels a little, dare I say it, dull. If you don’t have many friends on it, Swarm feels like it’s missing something.
I’ve spent the last few days thinking a lot about gamification in Swarm and I’ve begun to realise that there might be a valid complaint, though perhaps not for the reasons you might think.