Golden Gifts: Gowalla Steps Up Its Game For The Holidays

Screen shot 2009-12-15 at 1.27.07 PMAs Foursquare has shown so far, gaming elements are an intriguing part of location-based services. And more recently, Gowalla has started moving more towards that space as well. And just in time for the holidays, they have a new game that can earn users presents.

During what is calls “The 10 And A Half Days of Christmas (Because 12 Days Were Too Predictable),” Gowalla is giving away gifts to users who do one of two things: 1) Follow Gowalla on Twitter and tweet in 140 characters or less about why they should receive a prize. 2) Use Gowalla to check-in to venues around your city to attempt to find one of the “Golden Gifts.” The latter makes perfect use of Gowalla’s virtual goods system that has users picking up, dropping, and swapping items. If you check-in at a place and find one of these Golden Gifts, you will see a button below that reads, “Open Open Open!,” and clicking on that will get you the prize.

So what can you win? Gowalla is giving away 100 Gowalla-branded orange iPod nanos, 200 $10 iTunes gift cards, and 300 Gowalla t-shirts. If you enter the game by tweeting, you’ll be vying for the iPod nano. Gowalla will be giving one of those away each day between now and Christmas. The Golden Gift items can contain any of the prizes. It’s important to note that to find these prizes you must be using the latest version of Gowalla (1.3) on an iPhone.

Just last week, Gowalla closed a new $8.4 million round of funding that put its valuation near $30 million. This virtual good element to the game is expected to be the way the service eventually makes money. The idea is that you check-in to a certain place, receive a virtual item, and you can then trade that in for a real-life good which Gowalla would partner with venues to offer.

Another player in this space, Loopt, also recently unveiled a holiday-themed scavenger hunt game.

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