UPDATE: After this post went live, we received the following from Foursquare:
This email was sent by an intern and is simply wrong. We’re not discontinuing partner badges. Sorry for the confusion.
Partner badges have been a part of Foursquare almost since the very beginning, but they’re on their way out. Foursquare is now telling businesses that inquire about getting their own badges that they’re currently “winding down” the program.
One of our readers shared this email she received from Foursquare a few weeks ago:
We’re currently winding down on our Partner Badge program. We’ve allocated the engineering resources that went into producing these badges (typically 6-8 weeks worth of work) towards creating new tools for businesses. These tools have recently been released and are enabling businesses to better connect with their foursquare customers, while also giving them a way to measure their foursquare engagement…
We reached out to Foursquare for comment but they have not replied.
Partner badges were a great way for Foursquare to get some exposure with mainstream brands at very little cost (other than the engineering resources required). The History Channel, for instance, was among the earliest partners. They hyped their badge in on-air promos and their social media channels, exposing the Foursquare name to users outside the SXSW audience where they were introduced. Other brands like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Bravo provided similar in-kind promotions.
At one point, partner badges were rumored to cost in the neighborhood of $25,000 dollars per month with a minimum three month commitment. I doubt, though, that there were ever more than a handful of brands that paid that price. Most were traded in exchange for promotion from the sponsoring brands.
This announcement does not mean partner badges are completely gone yet — there are at least four more scheduled for release in the coming days — but it does mean we’ll be seeing fewer and fewer partner badges as those already in the channel are released.
I also don’t expect Foursquare to disable the existing badges any time soon. They are still a part of Foursquare’s (now meager) gamification efforts to encourage users to check in — and the engineering has already been done.
This is yet another example of Foursquare making a hard move away from gamification. Foursquare proved gamification was effective for encouraging check-ins, but in many ways became too closely identified with badges and mayorships instead of local search, their real end-game.
What do you think of the loss of partner badges?