A little over a year ago Garmin Launched opencaching.com to much fanfare. In that time Opencaching has managed to attract less than 50 geocache listings in the Waterloo Region. Compare this with the almost 2300 munzees placed in the region of Water in just over a year. With this stat alone munzee has crushed Opencaching, at least in Waterloo. There are fewer than 1000 geocaches in Waterloo region. Based on these numbers I think munzee poses a real challenge to geocaching.com.
munzee is a GPS game similar to geocaching. I don’t play the game, munzee is not supported on Blackberry platform but I have been with other players. Here are the main differences in the games as far as I can tell.
- munzee is all about the numbers, I’m not kidding. There is a leaderboard on munzee.com that allows players to see their standing against other players.
- Device dependant. Each munzee account is attached to a particular device. This means that teams of more than one person will need to share phones. I was out with a friend the other night and he had his wife’s phone so he could do captures.
- No pen required. Logging is accomplished by the scanning of a QR code or the reading of a chip using near field communication.
In most other respects finding a munzee is similar to finding a cache. Using the munzee app on your smart phone you go to coordinates and look for the munzee, which is usually some kind of tag/label with a QR code. The NFC mode is a recent introduction to munzee. You do not use your GPS although I have seen a GPS loaded with munzees in order to save the smart phone’s battery. Using the GPS feature on a smart phone tends to deplete the battery faster than normal.
For many years the official line at Groundspeak has been that geocaching is not about the numbers. As much as they try and down play the importance of raw numbers, milestones for finds still play a big part in the game. Unlike for munzees in geocaching there are few stats for the number of geocache hides you have placed. With munzees you are awarded points for the munzees you hide. Awarding points for hides creates an incentive to hide munzees. This is one reason the game is growing in scope if not in popularity.
According to Aaron Benzick at munzee.com there are over 50,000 active munzee players. This is still a small number compared to the over 5 million geocachers at geocaching.com. What munzee has been able to do that opencaching.com has not is build a critical mass of hides. There are over 172,000 placed worldwide. Germany ranks as the second most active munzee area with about 68,000 munzees placed.
Geocaching has helped create a knowledgeable audience for this new game. I recently attended a munzee event. There were 30 people in attendance and 26 of them were existing geocachers. munzee is just different enough from geocaching that it is attracting players.
Benzick of munzee.com doesn’t think they are a competitor to geocaching.com, “We don’t like to look at ourselves as competitors of geocaching. I think we supplement it nicely and allow options for people as they are out and about interacting with the real world. We are big fans of getting out and doing things in your community so the groundwork that the geocaching community has laid for the outdoor adventure crowd is something we respect!”
As I mentioned previously I do not play munzee but I can see the real attraction in the game for those that care about statistics. What do you think the future holds for munzee?