Guest Post: Resurrecting Location-Based Games

geo1Today’s guest post comes to us from David Bisceglia, Founder and CEO of  The Tap Lab, a mobile game studio focusing on location-based titles. His article focuses on what developers of these types of games can learn from previous titles in the genre.

Many of us grew up playing classic backyard games like Capture the Flag, Pickle and Marco Polo. The digital variant of these games are known as location-based games, a genre that has been around for over a decade.

A Brief History of Location-Based Games

In 1999, the first mobile phones with GPS hit the market. This set the course for the pioneers of location-based games. Dodgeball, one of the first location-based social networks, and a GPS-driven scavenger hunt called Geocaching both came to market in 2000. The major map data providers, Google Maps and Open Street Maps, were established by 2005 and the launch of iPhone and Android phones with GPS soon followed. From 2009-2010, venue data providers including Google Places, Foursquare and Factual placed the final piece of the puzzle for the mobile games we see today.


Multiple location-based games have hit the market in recent years. Yet, none of them have really caught on. The genre’s lack of a runaway success can be attributed to early mistakes made by developers of these games:

1.)  Relying on the check-in as a core game mechanic

2.)  Only letting players interact with their immediate surroundings

3.)  Forcing a game on top of existing map interfaces

To be clear, we’re not talking about social utilities like Foursquare or local deal finders such as Shopkick. These apps successfully leveraged the check-in as an engagement mechanic. However, they are not games at their core.

Read the rest of this post on our sister site Inside Social Games.