A hackneyed mechanic used by social game developers to increase and maintain their user base is to require current players to solicit their friends to participate in the game. Players are then given rewards for each friend that they solicit. But the end result is that the transaction feels slimy and players can become annoyed with all of the ‘begging’ for help. Another result is that players may be intrinsically motivated to help their friends but the extrinsic motivations could extinguish one’s inner need to assist.
One alternative would be to allow players to choose who they assist and when. A board could show ‘friends in need’ and the player would have the option of helping or not. The developers could also provide greater rewards for helping out a friend who is a highly active user and less rewards for players who are ‘deadbeats’ and are not particularly active. Random strangers could also be listed on the board thereby expanding the reach of volunteers and facilitating greater social contact.
However, this approach would only work with installed users and not help increase the number of new players.