Future Checkin Makes Foursquare Future Pointless

I love it how Techcrunch sometimes misses the bigger picture story on the tech news they cover. Actually, scratch that, I don’t love it, I think it’s annoying.  But maybe that’s their strategy totally miss something so other people (like me) will write something in response to it.  Well it worked…

In probably the 1,000,000th post that MG Siegler has written related to FOURSQUARE (not the fun game we played as kids, but the super “hip” being continually crammed down our throats mobile app/service that allows you to “check-in” to local businesses), he coves a new startup, Future Checkin, which allows you to “Check-In On Foursqaure Without Taking Your Phone Out of Your Pocket“.

The problem this startup is solving according to the article is:

Check-in fatigue in particular is a growing problem. A number of heavy users of Foursquare that I know (myself included) have been complaining in recent months that it’s getting a bit tedious to have to pull out your phone each time to check-in to a venue. Particularly venues that you frequent. Future Checkin absolutely solves that.

After reading that I don’t know where to begin. My initial reaction or solution to check-in fatigue wold be to STOP PLAYING FOURSQUARE. But I think that might be too logical. But I’m not too smart, and maybe I’m missing something. Instead I’ll follow up with while MG and gang might think that Future Checkin will be a big help for frequent users of Foursquare, Future Checkin is acutally the downfall of Foursqaure.

Why the Downfall?

It’s simple. The whole point of engaging in Foursquare is to partake in a “game.” I use the term very loosely cause I don’t see it so much a game, but if you consider anything where you get points and compete as a game then technically it’s a “game.”  Foursquare’s game mechanics are simple, you take you out your phone, open the app, tap check-in, and you gain a check-in point. Whoever has the most check-ins for a location is crowned the Mayor and has all the same privileges a real mayor has (none).

Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but part of the enjoyment of playing games is not so much the end result (getting the high score) but the process (the whole journey is the reward thing). What Future Checkin provides people is basically a way to automatically play the game without any work on the player’s part. That’s like having a program play Pacman for you. That’s not fun, that’s lame. If this is how these mobile local app/games are going to work this raises the question, why bother using stuff like Foursquare if you don’t even need to take it out of your pocket?

But maybe some people feel like the following…

Well I like playing Foursqaure since I can become the mayor of McDonald’s…so Future Check-In allows me to check-in when I forget

That’s true, but it makes the game truly irrelevant when you don’t have to do any additional work. That’s like me getting points every time I pee, take a breath of air, or scratch my butt (actually I’m kind of liking the sound of this game). I don’t have to do any work to play this game, I just do it cause I need to.

The bigger problem is that once someone starts using Future Checkin and racking up more points than another person that other person is going to install it…and then sooner or later everyone will have to install it to be competitive.  Once one person starts cheating it brings down the whole ecosystem and just makes it so everyone has to “cheat” to stay competitve.  Then we have the situation where everyone is playing a game where no one is doing anything…except installing an app on their phone.

So basically Future Checkin makes Foursquare irrelevant.

If You like Future Checkin You’ll Love These Ideas…

Maybe you don’t agree with me and that’s fine.   It doesn’t seem like Techcrunch sees it my way either. Somehow I’ll survive.  However, before I go I’ll leave you with some other awesome super brilliant app ideas that you’re guaranteed to love if you love Future Checkin:

  • Future Twitter – automatically tweets and responds to tweets based on your personality – for people who have tweet fatigue
  • Future Chat – automatically chats with your friends so you have more time to use Future Twitter – for people who have chat fatigue
  • Future Tennis – a robot that will play tennis for you against other opponents – for people who have movement fatigue

Anyway you get the point…if it gets to the point where you aren’t involved in the process it makes me wonder why even do it in the first place?

I did have hope today when I read the headline in Techcrunch, “Why Checking Into Foursquare with Your Phone in Your Pocket Won’t Always Work,” that someone would realize this futility issue with Future Checkin. But the article was talking more of the technological constraints of this working rather than discussing the bigger question of “why bother using Foursquare if we aren’t going to be using it.”

Stay classy Techcrunch.

Disclaimer:

I’m not ragging on the developers of the app, it’s not easy to build and launch stuff. I’m just ranting on the bigger picture of what’s the point of doing something when we aren’t involved. Hopefully you see that.  If not then keep enjoying Foursquare.

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