Foursquare Fail, Swarm Sinking


Recently Foursquare decided to split their check-in app into two separate apps. Foursquare is now turning into a wanna-be Yelp, and Swarm is the new check-in app.

I first found out about this because when I was checking into places on Foursquare where I was the mayor it wasn’t notifying me that I was the mayor anymore.

I tweeted at @4sqsupport and they responded quickly informing me that they were making way for Mayor 2.0.

foursquare support ‏@4sqSupport  May 13

@TaylorBentall Hi there! We’re making way for mayors 2.0! See more here: …

According to their blog these are the three reasons for them splitting the app:

  1. Points became arbitrary and less reflective of real-world achievement, because a check-in at a concert in Istanbul is really different than one at a dog park in New York (and the thousands of types of check-ins in between).
  2. We created hundreds and hundreds of badges to appeal to different people around the world. Some of you want more, though we hear more often that badges stopped feeling special a long time ago.
  3. Mayors were great when Foursquare was small and you were competing against your friends to rule the neighborhood coffee shop, but as more people signed up, earning a mayor crown became impossible.

When I read the way Swarm would work I wasn’t very happy.

I now have to compete with my friends to become a mayor, oh wait I have 12 friends that use Foursquare. I don’t compete with my friends for mayorship, I compete with the people in town. That’s the whole point of the app.

They also introduced stickers, which are a waste of time. If you want to read all the details check out the blog. I don’t want to copy and paste their whole blog in here.


I downloaded Swarm and gave it a chance for a week and I finally deleted it yesterday.

I deleted it for three reasons:

1. I check into places where I am the mayor and nothing happened. The whole point of checking in is to feel a sense of accomplishment and I don’t feel that with Swarm. It is just a waste of time now.

2. The app has an auto-location setting and tries to guess where I am. That’s not the point!! I am supposed to tell you where I am, not the other way around. Oh and the location is always on so it kills your battery.

3. It shows everyone’s check-ins, I doesn’t show just their last check-in, so I have to scroll through a bunch of posts to see older ones.

Honestly the app design is really cool. I love the new feature of being able to make plans. I think it is cool.

The reviews on the app story have been overwhelmingly negative. The people gave it a 5 star rating said, “I like it but, [enter problem].”

There are as many 1 star ratings as there are positive.

Here are some 1 star reviews:

Royman0: “I miss some of the game aspects like badges and leveling up… the stickers don’t seem that fun.

Sixonthefloor: “I don’t like having to use two apps to check into one place. Why can’t you just keep it simple and use one app?”

I am sitting here wondering the same thing. I am not going to use Foursquare to check reviews on places. I use Google. They are fighting a battle they aren’t going to win

Salvag98: “I have been using Foursqaure for years, I just can’t figure out why they are inisiting on splitting the app in two.”

It goes on and on. I understand that it is a new app and it might have technical flaws. I am not worried about those. I am worried about why they changed everything. They messed with something good and made it bad.

With all these negative reviews I am wondering what research they did. What audience did they research to think that this would work?All of the 5 star ratings seem to be people that know nothing about the app and haven’t used Foursquare. New users might be happy, but they don’t know what they are missing.

All the negative reviews come from people that have been using Foursquare for years

Funkyman3333: “Ack! This is awful! I’ve used Foursquare for 4-5 years and love it. I cared less about where my friends were. The gamification is gone- no more points, no badges and mayorship is stupid.”

This is the audience that they should have been talking to. The three reasons above for changing it are the exact reasons that people hate Swarm now. Badges, points and mayors. People liked it and now they removed because they think that people don’t like them.

This blows my mind! I told everyone how great Foursquare was, now all I can talk about is how mad I am that they split the app. I will only go back if they change things and even then it is a long shot.

UPDATE: November 7, 2014

I got an email from Foursquare yesterday with his image in it!

I am still not satisfied! I know that they probably took the feedback and did what they could, but it just won’t be the same. They should have done this research beforehand, instead of trying to fix it after. Good PR move with the email by saying that you listened to the consumer.

If they asked me the first time though this wouldn’t have happened! I am still not downloading it, I will never download it again! They are just going to have to live with the fact that they made the biggest mistake by getting greedy and trying to split the app!



15 thoughts on “Foursquare Fail, Swarm Sinking

  1. This is Foursquare’s “New Coke / Netflix Qwikster” moment, and the longer they wait before bringing out “Foursquare Classic,” the more users they’ll lose forever. I deleted Foursquare and Swarm after only two days, and I already feel the check-in habit fading.

    • I am with you I deleted it so fast! I just don’t know why they are not responding to all the negative comments on the internet. Also wondering what kind of marketing research they did!

  2. I am now having no more notifications at all from foursquare about people asking me questions, etc after mistakingly installing swarm then uninstalling it. I tried even reistallibg foursquare without any luck. Thank you foursquare for more bad things besides no mayorships, no fair checkins, etc. You gave ruined this app.

  3. Pingback: Foursquare vs. Swarm Craziness | Where Fashion Meets Tech

  4. Now I read reviews in my language (Czech) and app. 95% are with 1star and I agree with that. I´m SU2 and have to tell, that 4SQ/Swarm is now useless and I´m going away… Yelp is now much better for me…

  5. I used FourSquare for 4-5 years. I loved the features of full-population mayorships, badges, stacking points for various things like a long travel and going to a new hotel, etc., they were unique among well-designed apps. I’ve since uninstalled both FourSquare and Swarm; Swarm is stupid and pointless with lame mayorships, and the new “find somewhere to eat” FourSquare is trounced by Yelp and Google.

    All reviews I see for the latest versions of FourSquare and Swarm are 1 or 2 stars, and I agree with them all. Did FourSquare do any market research, or listen to any industry studies about product redesign and keeping a dedicated user base? Talk about a major fail! I imagine they’ll go under eventually now, they’ve broken their user base and it will probably be impossible to win everyone back again.

    • I didn’t even use FourSquare as long as you and I am really upset! I don’t know what they were thinking. To be honest, I think that they were being greedy and were trying to make more money!

  6. Regarding the November 7th update, I got the same exact email, with the very deceiving subject line “We heard you, and we’ve made some changes”. I don’t know if the blogger has followed along like I have (mainly I’m being updated by an SU3 who still checks in daily with Swarm), but all the changes to Swarm and Foursquare outlined in that email were several weeks, if not months old!! And those changes to Swarm in no way would make me want to come back; not even close. They are clueless, man. All the vitriol you see on the internet is from their CORE BASE of loyal longtime users. These aren’t Foursquare newbies!

  7. Sorry, another thing here. I deleted that email within minutes of receiving it, thanks for the screen shot. I missed a very important thing in there. “Get the rundown on what you’ve been missing”. They obviously only sent that email to longtime users who have stopped checking in. For example, my last check in was July 9th, 2014. I can also tell you my SU3 friend who still checks in on Swarm did NOT get that email, although he got a different one the same day.

    • Thanks for letting me know about! Did they think that no one would notice? I don’t know who they are trying to fool. Like I said if they truly listened then they would get rid of Swarm and bring back Foursquare. I even sent them an email back letting me know that this email wasn’t helpful. Keep me updated on anything new you see!

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