By Aj Glasser From Inside Social Games
A new "Top 50 Friends" option in Friend Invite menus on Facebook streamlines the game requests process and could produce higher retention.
As spotted in the newly-launched Ravenskye City, the Invite Friends menu now displays a "Select Top 50 Friends" box that automatically selects the first 50 names that appear on the Friends list (which is organized alphabetically). This box appears both for the general Friends filter and for any additional filters the developer has created (such as Ravenwood Fair Friends) filter. If a player goes through their list to manually select friends, the number in the Top Friends filter decreases accordingly. This means that at any time, the player can add to the list of friends they've already selected with remaining invites.
The Friend Request portion of a social game is crucial to viral growth because it exposes new games to potentially receptive users, but it can be harmful to retention. For example, a player faced with an unsorted list of friends might opt out of sending Requests for fear of annoying a non-gamer friend.
Players also may be frustrated by having to click individual boxes next to friend names repeatedly until they hit the maximum invite limit (which now appears to be 50 whereas a few months ago it was fixed at 30 for most social games). Both examples could hurt retention because it creates friction around the Request process — which most games rely on not only for recruiting new users but also for gifting systems.
This "top 50″ option in the Requests list will go a long way toward eliminating both concerns — particularly if developers craft better filters that return only those friends that have a history of exchanging gifts with the player. In its present state, inviting your top 50 friends as organized alphabetically isn't very useful as there are no guarantees that those friends even play games on Facebook.
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