A few years ago, it almost feels like forever now, I found the leaderboard that Foursquare had buried inside its app. Maybe buried is too strong of a word. It was noticeable, but not immediately to anyone who wasn't actively looking for that type of thing. Sure, Foursquare has always given you points, and you could even take the crown as mayor, but for the longest time I just thought they were empty numbers. Just a flashy score that, once appeared, was gone forever.
Like many Foursquare users, I had this insatiable desire to become the mayor of as many places as I could, if for nothing more than just the title. When I found the leaderboard, though, it became a different game entirely. The mayorship wasn't enough. No, now I needed to go find new places to check into, just so I could get the most points possible. The different badges, which offered more points on their own, were coveted marks of honor.
Essentially, Foursquare became a multiplayer game that I had to be the best of.
I'm a competitive person by default, but the moment a leaderboard gets tossed into the mix, the whole thing gets ratcheted up to another level. And that's what Foursquare did for me. It was fun taking places from friends, earning points for "swarming" locations with a lot of people, or even managing to get the badge for being on a boat. That leaderboard had moving pieces every day, but the goal of staying on the top never ended.
Until the developers started burying the leaderboard further and further into the app, to the point where it was no longer prominent at all. Once that happened, I effectively stopped checking into places altogether. Before long, the app was deleted from my phone entirely.
Recently, Foursquare unveiled a new logo and icon, along with the realization that they would be removing the check-in option from their app entirely, and would house it from here on out specifically in the new Swarm app (which has just launched on Windows Phone as well). There was a brief moment there where I thought about downloading the new-ish application and giving it a go, to start checking into different locations again, but then I realized that same kind of thrill wouldn't be there.
I used to see check-ins on Twitter all the time, and my friend's list within Foursquare used to get updated constantly. Now, though, I very rarely see check-ins. And that's from any app, not just Foursquare or Swarm. I don't know if it's just that people got tired of seeing it on Twitter, or sending it to Twitter in general, or even Facebook or Google+, or if it's an actual decline in check-ins themselves, but the results have been pretty clear on this end.
With the launch of Swarm on Windows Phone, I got to thinking: are any of you out there still using apps to check into places? If so, what's the goal these days? Do you get deals at locations, or free food at restaurants (I know this was the case with Foursquare for some establishments)? Or do you just like checking into places? Let me know!