CacheCrazy.Com: Groundspeak Versus Munzee

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Groundspeak Versus Munzee

Today’s article is less of an article and more of a discussion piece.  Here goes...

Some time ago, our colleague Smithie23 introduced us to the game of Munzee.  The first I ever heard of Munzee was through his informative article and, since then, I’ve seen more and more about it. 
I logged a cache a little while back near the abandoned Pennsylvania ghost town of Centralia (More on this interesting piece of Pennsylvania history another time).  On a recent journey through the DLC geocaching profile page, I noticed that this particular cache - Dying to Get In (GC1QHV) - had been archived.  Curious as to why, I checked it out.   
On the cache page, the Cache Owners specifically state the following:
I am not sure what the CO's aversion to Munzee is, but frankly I don’t really care.  If they don’t want Munzees in their cache, that seems like a fair enough request and like any other swag request (i.e. travel bugs only), I don't see a problem honoring that.
What I do find interesting, however, is this log posted by the reviewer on November 1, 2011.  This answers my question as to why the cache was archived:
On September 9th, the cache owner was asked to remove all references to Munzees off their cache pages. Munzee is a competing commercial business and as such should not be referred to on the cache page in any form.

As 30+ days have passed since the request, I am forced to archive this listing.
Full disclosure and for the record, I did not contact either the CO or Groundspeak on this matter, but the reviewer’s comment is clear - all references to Munzee are to be removed.  When the CO did not heed that request, the reviewer archived the listing.
For me, although the game sounds fine enough, I am not a smartphone user and therefore have never played Munzee.  So I can’t personally speak of the game's merits, addictive properties, or what-have-you.  I’ll take the side of both the CO in this case and the Munzee players – 1) I’m OK with a CO asking that certain things not be put in his cache; but 2) I’m also OK with the game of Munzee.
I am having some trouble taking Groundspeak's side on this, the apparent stance that Munzee cannot co-exist with geocaching.  What makes this case even a bit more odd is that the CO is taking a position AGAINST Munzee.  You'd think Groundspeak would let that go.  But, no, they are apparently taking it a step farther – you can’t even MENTION Munzee on their website. 
So here’s my question for discussion…
Is Groundspeak overstretching their bounds a bit?  Or is Groundspeak correct in that geocaching and Munzee should be separate games?
What are your thoughts?



This is a great discussion point and thank you for bringing it here.

Let me qualify by saying, I love geocacheing and I like Munzee too. I just captured one of smithie23's Munzee's while grabbing a coffee on the weekend. It was a lot like geocacheing. I had to find it first and avoid muggles and when I did, I used the Droid to scan and capture that bad boy instead of signing, it's was fun!

Munzee's can be deployed without review, have few if any rules and it's gaining in popularity. Kinda sounds like the beginning of geocaching doesn't it?
Munzee is commercial and will support commercial sponsorship in the future(one of Groundspeaks no, no's). So what is Groudspeak, free? The app costs money, the premium membership costs money they advertise and the last time I checked they are not listed as a "not for profit" organization. I personally refuse to get a premium membership for personal and practical reasons, I don't need it. But, it doesn't mean I'm not going to play the game!

It also costs nothing to play Munzee.It's free and why the two games can't coexist is beyond me. I love to find a Munzee in a cache and I plan to put one in every cache I own. If you don't play it, don't use it, just sign the log, trade swag and move on. That's it. Simple.

In defense of Groundspeak and their position. They own the website, pay the bills to keep it that way and I appreciate the unlimited space that allows me to post elaborate cache pages. I guess if they want to they could do whatever they please with their site and block whatever they don't want. They have the structure in place to do that so why let the competition in on their prize? But, let's face it guys, if it weren't for us CO's, seekers and review volunteers,there is no game so should WE have a say? I wonder if the same goes for or GeoCheckpoint?

In my mind, the scanning feature of Munzee will eventually be part of geocaching in any case. It's the next step in the technological development of the game. It just makes sense so why the big deal? The big deal is the 10 million dollar business that Groundspeak set up and operates with less than 70 employees and have had 72% growth in the past four years. Like most businesses, they forgot the words of their founded,Jeremy Irish who once said that he would never charge money to play the game, ya right!

10 years ago or so, a group of Letterboxing folks started to talk about this new game called Geocaching. Letterboxing has been around for about 150 years but opened their arms to the game and Groundspeak reciprocated. They didn't put up a struggle and even set up a special icon for the letterboxes on their site. They adopted them so to speak so why them and not Munzee? Seems like Groundspeak does what benefits them first and the players second. Gaining those Letterboxes made their presence "look" bigger.

So, in summary, the games should be separate even though they feel an awful lot alike to me......
And, if I was a big wig with Munzee, I would be happy about that.

That's my two cents, what's yours?

BigAl said...

Thanks for the article, and thanks BH for your input. I don't know very much about Munzee. I did check it out a little bit this morning when I read the original article. I had not realized that you need a special phone to play this game. I don't have one of those types of cell phones, and I don't know when I will upgrade to one. I know that eventually all cell phones will have to come with a data plan, but not for me right now.

What I like about Geocaching is that you don't really have to have a GPS to find them. I met a lady who strictly used an old compass, google earth maps, and pacing. She has found a fair number of them with just these items. I thought that was really cool.

At least with a GPS you do not need an app or a data plan to play. Yes, you can purchase the Prem. membership, but you don't have to.

I did read on the Munzee site this morning that they only recommend you putting them in a cache if you have permission from the CO. I agree with that. I know everyone has their rules and if there is one in a cache (with permission) I'll probably just do as BH said and swap my swag and move on. If people want to play the new game on the block then let them play; it won't bother me. I have not done the letter boxing stuff and I don't know if I will or not. Only time will tell. I think for now I'll just stick with my trusty ol' Garmin and keep on caching.

That's my two cents worth, so now let's here yours.

smithie23 said...

Wow, this is a tough call. I think it's senseless for Groundspeak to make a big fuss over Munzees being in caches, and for logs to reference Munzees being in caches. Munzee isn't direct competition to Groundspeak, so what's the big deal? In my mind, knowing a Munzee is in a cache may make that cache more attractive to cache hunters. I know I would favor a cache with a Munzee over your run-of-the-mill "whatever" cache. You know, the cache where you find it, sign the log, and just say "eh, whatever".

That being said, I think we have a responsibility to honor the wishes of the cache owner. The CO didn't establish the rule, Groundspeak did. All the CO wanted was for his cache to not get archived, so I can't really blame him/her there.

Thanks for bringing up this topic, Dan!

Dave DeBaeremaeker said...

I think Groundspeak is being heavy handed with its policy of not allowing even mentions of competing services. However given its their policy, and the consumer does have a choice of where to go for its listing services (granted is the hands down winner for quantity), one should respect the policy.

However if I ever meet Jeremy I will give him a stern talking too about cultivating a culture of openness within his user base - its best for everyone.

dardo said...

In groundspeak forums you cannot ask for helo with a Geocaching app that is not the official one. Concretly if you name c:geo the ban you. The worse of this is that is not Groundspeak who ban you, it's a forum moderator that it's a VOLUNTEER.

Grounspeak do money with OUR geocaches. We plant it in the wild and stimulates other people for ho hunt them and they not share benefits with nothig, even the volunteer who enforcing that everyone follows the guidelines and the CO that brings players to the game, because if all geocaches has to bee planted by GS employs there will be geocaches only around GS HQ and their employes homes.

I Geocaching, I dopley munzees. I do both and their are not exclusive, but I don't like how GS do the things. Website modification only for stop other apps to work, specially the ones that do webscrapping and has the same behavior of an human user following the links and yes. I speak about g:ceo, but there are more applications that are better that teh official one and are free and adfree.

Instead of trying to make alliance with the app creators and let the apps access to the whole GC website API they put stupid limitations that made the player choose one: go premium or left. Some very active players has moved to other games like munzee.

While Grounspeak continues with their stupid policies there will be enough niche for other gps games.

Anonymous said...

Great post and comments. I actually just had a message from a reviewer about having munzee in my cache notes. I removed it and also removed the munzee from my cache this morning. I will place it somewhere else.
I am a newbie, but do I have to say that Munzee seems to be much more open. Just my 2 cents.

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