They Ruined GeoGuessr…
For several years, GeoGuessr — a game that uses Street View from Google Maps to show a random image for a player to guess its location — has been a free and fun game for travelers and non-travelers alike. It includes additional themed maps and a multiplayer mode available for users that have GeoGuessr PRO, a paid subscription. Refer to this article written on December 23, 2016 for the original article about the game. However, in July 2019, the free experience became severely limited.
They Ruined GeoGuessr…
On Thursday, July 4, 2019, GeoGuessr creator Anton Wallén announced on Reddit that users that do not have the PRO status will have access to a much simpler version of the game due to the costs to keep the game operating:
Back in 2013 when we started GeoGuessr I never imagined that it would take off like it did. Today, six years later, we are a growing community with millions of members!
While this is awesome in every way, a game of this magnitude has its challenges and one of them are the rising costs to keep the site up and running. I’m writing this to let you know that after the summer some changes will come regarding how non-pro users can play the game. Basically there will be a simpler version of GeoGuessr for non-pro users as well as limitations on what maps that will be available.
If you enjoy GeoGuessr, want to have the best possible experience and at the same time support GeoGuessr we highly recommend that you give PRO a go, try it out for free for 10 days.
If you have any thoughts please let us know in our support forum.
Let’s explore the world!
Anton Wallén, Founder/Geography enthusiast
An API, or application program interface, is a program or set of code that allows data to be transmitted between two or more software platforms, and can also be used by different companies or businesses, usually at a cost.
Since GeoGuessr uses the Street View API from Google Maps, as well as the map itself for the guessing window, it must pay Google for the use of both of these. Google also greatly increased these prices recently, and many sites that have used Google API have switched to other services. However, none of them are as extensive as Google Street View. The heavy increase of players since the game debuted in 2013 also increases the cost to maintain the game.
As a result, GeoGuessr had no choice but to limit the free experience in hopes of users switching to PRO in order to cover these costs. Other alternatives to GeoGuessr, such as the game Eighty Clicks, has followed suit. Google created the API for other businesses to use, and in turn make a profit for itself. This has proven effective based on the increase of the costs to use this API. A table of API costs to use Google Maps can be found here.
As a person who enjoyed GeoGuessr for a few years, I decided to try the free version to see how limited it truly is. It is certainly limited, as a panoramic view is no longer available and it repeats the location often. I ended up in the same location near the town of Nasinu, Fiji twice in a round of five locations. The free version also does not use Google API and it is blurry, so using signs and license plates as clues has gotten more difficult. I decided that upgrading to PRO was not worth it, as I would much rather put forth the $1.99 per month towards a trip so that I can see the world in real life and not pay to see it on a screen.