If ever there was an optimistic expression of the seductive power of the MMO, it's in the trial program. All game makers have to do is offer a way for existing subscribers to give a taste
of their product to their friends, and these new players will fall head over heels into the pile of paying customers. It's a sound marketing strategy really; who knows better which kinds of people will be weak to the siren song of an MMO better than their friends, co-workers, and family members? In politics, they call this micro-targeting.
According to Cameron Sorden over at Random Battle
, the thing that sets SWG's
Buddy Program apart from the competition is that instead of offering incentives in the form of free playtime (as with the popular Tabula Rasa
Recruit a Rookie program), they offer in-game
rewards to players. By Sorden's logic, most gamers already consider their subscription fees a sunk cost, so the greatest incentive is something that will enhance their in-game experience. He takes it a step forward and suggests that rewarding players for recruiting whole networks of new players, would provide the greatest return to all parties involved. It's an interesting perspective, though personally I would probably stop short of the whole pyramid scheme idea.