Booyah Launches MyTown 3.1, Introduces Check-In Limits

Foursquare should pay attention, Booyah’s got some serious legs.

The geo-based gaming service is launching MyTown 3.1, the latest iteration of its increasingly popular iPhone app. The new version includes a check-in limit, add-ons to customize your property and a revamped menu of nearby locations that will now also show your friends’ favorite destinations and trending places (nearby spots with the highest levels of activity).

In addition, one of the key updates is a new policing system: when you pull up a friend’s recent locations you’ll see an accuracy indicator button next to their check-in, coded in green, yellow or red. The accuracy indicator will tell you how close your friend was to that location when they checked-in with green being very close and red implying that your friend is a big fat liar. It’s similar to Foursquare’s recent crack down on fake check ins by launching a “cheater code” that evaluates your phone’s location versus your check-in— you only get points and badges if your location is verified.

Here’s a closer look at some of the features mentioned above: the first screen shows you the “what’s nearby” menu with a special section for your friends’ favorites, the second screen depicts one of the new collectibles you can get (premium collectibles can be purchased) to customize your property, and the third screen shows a friend’s recent check-ins and the new accuracy indicators. Hmm…turns out Tracy wasn’t actually at the Peninsula Fountain & Grill two days ago.

For die-hard MyTown residents the biggest change in 3.1 is the limitation on the number of check-ins. In this version, you will be capped at 25 check-ins. According to Booyah VP of Business Development, David Wang, this quota is intended to inspire check-in fidelity and to level the playing field by preventing users from gaming the system. He says people should think of check-ins as a limited resource and think twice before using a check-in.

While I could see how someone with  a thousand daily check-ins is abusing the system, I am concerned about the high-frequency user who also depends on MyTown to notify their friends about their locations. 25 check-ins is a lot but not impossible to surpass. Wang says in the next version (due out likely in May) Booyah is planning to allow users to check-in after 25,but these additional check-ins will not help you accrue points. The team is also willing to change the 25 check-in benchmark depending on community feedback.

In many ways MyTown is different than Foursquare. Both rely on game mechanics to encourage users to check into locations, but MyTown is focused on gaming while Foursquare emphasizes social utility. On MyTown you can purchase different location sites with virtual currency, visitors pay you rent when they check into your property, and you can win points, unlock bonus items and gain currency by checking-in. But for all their differences, Booyah and Foursquare are true competitors, vying for a greater slice of the geo-based gaming market. Foursquare may have dominated the headlines with all the takeover rumors and sky-high valuations, but Booyah is generally outpacing Foursquare when it comes to the numbers. Here’s some of the latest, according to the company:

-3.5 to 4 million check-ins per day or roughly 40 to 46 check-ins per second

-The average user spends more than an hour per day on Booyah.

-The app serves 200 million virtual items a month.

-The app is ranked #12 overall.

To put that growth in perspective, the Kleiner Perkins iFund company was logging just 6 check-ins per second less than four months ago. MyTown had 500,000 users in January, and 1 million in February, if that growth rate stays constant, MyTown should be adding 500,000 users per month. For comparison, Foursquare hit the millionth user mark just weeks ago. Wang argues that there should be plenty of room for all the Foursquares, Gowallas, MyTowns in this increasingly competitive space, but of course, “if push comes to shove, we want to be that only check-in.”