In its quest to add a little fun through your (literal) journey through life, Swarm is launching version 3.0 of the app, bringing in a special new game that lets you compete with your friend network.
In short, the Swarm leaderboard rewards users with coins for checking in at various places. Some check-ins might be worth only one coin, whereas others can be worth 10 or more, based on factors like how many times you’ve been there, who you’re with, if you’re the mayor, or how rare the check-in is.
The leaderboard only shows you and your friend network on Swarm, as opposed to Mayorships, which have you pitted against the entire Swarm network.
Each week, on Monday morning, the leaderboard clears out and a new competition begins. However, your coin balance remains the same over time, so users can accumulate points week over week.
But why coins?
Well, it isn’t immediately apparent in the app just yet, but the Swarm team hinted that, eventually, coins will be worth something. They could potentially let users cash in on virtual prizes. One can imagine a special sticker being purchased for 12 coins or even an interactive game that could be added to a check-in for a higher cost.
Swarm has been building toward this for months.
Originally, the app launched as more of a social utility, after splitting away from the old foursquare that comprised both check-ins (games) and recommendations (utility).
“When we unbundled Foursquare into two apps, checking in lost some of its magic,” said Swarm Product lead J Crowley. “It was clear to our community and to our team that the app lacked personality and voice. Over the last year, we’ve spent a lot of time learning about how people used the app, taking inspiration from some of Foursquare’s successful game mechanics, and thinking about how we could make a social utility more fun.”
Thus far, two new games have emerged.
The first is a game you play against yourself, to unlock as many stickers as possible. There are 100 special collectible stickers (77 of which have been released in the app) alongside around 15 standard stickers. While some are unlocked with a single check-in, others take a bit more persistence and/or ingenuity. Once unlocked, stickers can be sent in messages or added to photos (or, obviously, check-ins).
The second game comes by way of Mayorships. Just as folks were used to in the old foursquare app, Swarm users are now all in a global competition to see who is the most regular regular at any given spot, with a thirty-day rolling period to check-in as many times as possible and take the throne.
Today, the third and final game is being unveiled in the form of the leaderboard, complete with coins.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Swarm is no longer a utility. The app still lets you check which friends are nearby, message a whole group of nearby friends, or send private messages (including your location) within the app.
Alongside the introduction of the leaderboard, Swarm is also releasing a new “Here Now” feature that lets you easily see if your friends are checked-in at the same location.
Plus, the app has undergone a few design tweaks to streamline use, including combining ‘Nearby’ and ‘Worldwide’ friends into a single tap, as well as combining messages and notifications into a single tab.
“We’re building an app that blurs stylistic lines between mobile game and social app,” said designer Courtney Christopher. “The inspiration for Swarm 3.0’s visual direction has largely come from video games. We want Swarm to feel friendly and delightful, so we’ve introduced rounded typefaces, playful shapes, and sound effects.”
Swarm 3.0 is now available in the App Store and the Google Play store. Check it out here.