Two highly-anticipated, location-based games for the iPhone were launched last March. Foursquare is similar to the popular Dodgeball, which Google bought in 2005 (though it was shut down very recently), and it has been gaining a reputation domestically in the United States. The other is Gowalla, which was created by Alamofire, and this, conversely, has been gaining international users in a quick pace. These two IRL-style games have a lot in common, but it's their differences that are really interesting. At a glance, Gowalla and Foursquare can be misunderstood as the same application: they both let you "check-in" at various places and are both considered to be IRL-style games. Gowalla, however, is based entirely on GPS, whilst Foursquare is based on cities and addresses.
Foursquare is a location-based game that lets you check-in, earning you points and badges. Currently available on the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry, this game has weekly leader-boards, and depending on the activity, they can get multiplied for checking in at several places. This application is very precise: it is only available in certain cities around the world. Then again, Foursquare's lets you to play a lot quicker, instead of having to add every place you visit. Nonetheless, Foursquare gets even more interesting when you add in venue Mayors. In fact, you can be promoted as "Mayor" status if you check in more than anyone else in a venue. Such promotions are mostly just for self-esteem. However, some venues offer Mayors free drinks or discounts when visiting-one of them and it even allows businesses to offer promotions.
A competitive application, however, is Gowalla's service that also launched at SXSW in the same month as Foursquare. Gowalla lets you check in at venues in a very similar way as Foursquare, and has an iPhone application available as well. One thing is that there's no SMS integration, whereas Foursquare does. This iPhone application is, nevertheless, still admired by many. It can be argued that Gowalla is distinguished since its service is not limited to certain cities. The brainchild of this application is that the service improves its venue listings by "crowd-sourcing" them. Then again, results can be ghastly if you are looking to play from the on the spot. Gowalla's visual features exceed those of Foursquare. From your first check-in through to numerous nights out, Gowalla takes the experience a step further with a fun, though nominal, set of trips that encourage its users to explore places and have a rich experience.
Statistically, Gowalla's revenue is greater and downloads exceed those of Foursquare. Yet, Foursquare has more "Twitters," and greater traffic to its website. At the moment, Fourquare appears to be clearly ahead, but Gowalla is growing very quickly. For now, it's Foursquare, but within a few months, who knows which one will dominate the other.
In fact, Stephen MacNielle, a junior at St. Mark's School prefers Gowalla to Foursquare. He claims, "I have tried foursquare, but Gowalla has much more to offer. You can spot create and not just in supported cities. Also, it has a user-friendly interface, and you can collect virtual items.” These two games are clearly changing the world. In essence, they are making social activity a game. The ability to check-in to physical places, get in touch with your friends and informs them what you're doing and where you are doing it. Moreover, they represent enhancing a much more profound connection between place and patron. These applications let information to be shared and stored by users and present them in a way that makes it not only immediately helpful, but also accessible. It is essentially a community on a whole new level.