While such apps have been bubbling under for a while, it looks like they’re finally ready to go mainstream.
Real world challenges
The news today that social location gaming startup SCVNGR has raised an impressive $15 million dollar round and is valued at $100m, shows that the social location-based gaming space is packed with potential for the new year.
Going beyond the likes of Foursquare and Gowalla’s, SCVNGR gets you to carry out challenges. Checking in at locations, you gain ponts by, for example, folding the wrapper of your taco at a Mexican restaurant into an origami hat and taking a photo of the result. These fun, often easy challenges can unlock rewards at participating locations and make competing for mayorships look antiquated. Beyond challenges, ‘Treks’ let you combine a number of locations into a more involved activity.
For businesses, the benefit of taking part in SCVNGR is that players have to actively engage with their surroundings – there’s no checking in from two blocks away here as you actually have to get involved with a task on-site. This lets shops, cafes, bars and many other types of locations, to develop stronger relationships with their customers.
Getting physically active
SCVNGR isn’t the only startup in the space. In our recent round-up of Geolocation games, we covered Tourality, a similar app that focuses more on physical activities. Working anywhere in the world, the app will create races that encourage you to run between checkpoints either beating your won times or racing against competitors.
Although it’s been around for several years, Tourality’s been given fresh coat of paint recently and an iPhone version of its app is in the works to accompany Android, Blackberry and Nokia versions.
Then there’s the explosion in popularity of fitness apps that get you out of the house. RunKeeper, an app that lets you share your fitness routines online has seen over 1 million downloads this week in a well-timed promotion to tie in with people’s new year’s resolutions. Elsewhere, the developers of the similar MapMyTracks app tell us that it has seen a significant spike in downloads in the past few days as a result of its own promotion.
While these spikes are a combination of temporarily free apps being offered at a time when lots of people want to keep fit, it could well get users used to the idea of activity-based apps. This is undoubtedly a space to watch in 2011.