Why Foursquare Failed (Hint: the Same Reason as Pokemon Go)

What Foursquare did well: Extrinsic Motivation

Development and Accomplishment

Ownership and Possession

Social Influence & Relatedness (Black Hat)

Similar to Pokemon Go, Foursquare did well in creating collection sets and striving for multiple check-ins to become the Mayor. This also included competitive leaderboards (versus collaboration).

But what happens when you realize you can’t become the mayor? Or when you realize the discounts you’re getting aren’t that great? Or that your friends don’t care that much that you checked in somewhere new? (Not to mention competitors were quickly cloning these features.)

What Foursquare didn’t do well: Intrinsic Motivation

Social Influence & Relatedness (White Hat)

Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback

After enjoying the collection of the first few Pokemon nearby your home, would-be Pokemon trainers struggled to keep up with the hard core gamers. For most casual players, there wasn’t enough Core Drive 3 to sustain them through Scaffolding and Endgame phases.

Walking in nature is intrinsically interesting, but Pokemon Go is making players feel like this: “now I have to go for a walk just to collect Pokemon.” The extrinsic design bias in the game motivated us to start walking in our surroundings to add to our collection set. But after a while the extrinsic motivation has completely taken over our intrinsic desire to explore our surroundings. Now going out to hunt for Pokemon feels like a chore rather than a fun game. Motivation wanes.

Same goes with Foursquare. Once Mayors establish themselves, it is hard to dethrone them.

There wasn’t enough creative application of strategy (from the player’s point of view) to keep them interested.

For more on balancing intrinsic and extrinsic motivation…

The key is building an engaging Core Activity Loop and THEN building in tweaks to your overall system.

For additional questions like this and in depth discussion, join us in Octalysis Prime.

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