Elven Blood Critic and Applying Social Psychology to Social Network applications

By | February 3, 2009

The application I am going to review is Elven Blood. Mainly because I am precisely the target market to NOT play this type of applications. 

Summary of what the presenting team said about the application that you think is most important.

 Presenting Team says: 

  1. This is a niche application that targets a small group of gamers.
  2. Stories/Quest is presented in Bite sized so people can play them in a short period of time.
  3. Players abuse the invite system because of the reward (more game moves) that they can get when inviting friends.
  4. Developers could not catch up with the speed at which users complete the game thus leading to stagnation among the top users.
  5. Revenue source is by in game Cost per Acquisition (CPA) advertising. Acquisition = Survey completion, signups, purchase etc
  6. The developers used the same game platform to develop other genres of games to target other groups of users.

Zhou Wenhan comments:

 This is a niche application that targets a small group of gamers.

Hmm…I find it hard to actually agree with this point. Facebook applications are usually mass market and rarely do niche applications actually succeed. The main reasoning that niche applications can find 1million users from Facebook’s pool of 100 Million users is flawed. Firstly one has to look at how Facebook applications spread. Mostly this is through invites. When you get an invite, you evaluate the applications probably in this order by 1) what it does (does it interest you) 2) how it looks (does it look professional) 3) cost of using the application (is this hard to use) 4) ROI (Benefit / cost).

For a mass market application, it is likely that you will at least try the application because it should pass stage 1 & 2. For a niche application, the likeliness that it will even pass stage 1 is unlikely. 

For example, if 1 user sends out 20 (maximum allowed) invites a day and a mass market app has a 25% chance of infecting one of your friends, the mass market app will get 5 more users.  

However if you are talking about a niche application, say the conversion rate is 5%. This means that for each person that sends out 20 invites, one more new user joins.  

In 5 days, here are the numbers of users for the 2 applications

Mass Market: 625

Niche: 16

 So obviously Facebook’s invite systems do not benefit niche applications because the apps virality is low.

 Stories/Quest are presented in Bite sized so people can play them in a short period of time

 This is something that I think the developers did right both in the game design point of view. In presenting stories in bite size, it appeals to causal gamers who do not want to invest much time into a game. Plus because Facebook use goes up during work and that one should not be caught playing games during work, bite size ALT TABable games are surely the way to go! 

Because the games are bite size, players get the feel of progression and hence do not demand much from the game in the way of features. I.e. if you are going to sit down and play the game for 1 hour, it better be good looking, fun etc. If the game just takes me 10 clicks a day to move through, I will care less about the graphics and features.

The developers used the same game platform to develop other genres of games to target other groups of users.

The thing about software is that can scale and it can be replicated. This means that software developer and deployment is a fixed cost and not a marginal one. Software once developed can be reused which means clones are free and derivatives of the original are cheap to produce.

 The same applies to the earlier phase of learning to develop on/with a platform. Learning to develop on a platform is hard and time consuming but once you are experienced in a platform, you can churn code out very fast.

 So knowing this “feature” of software, it is not surprising why companies are choosing to replicate their backend into other derivatives product. The Return on investment makes sense as the investment has already been paid and you just need so more artist, marketing cost to get another application running. 

 FYI: check out getafreelancer.com. Do a search for eBay clones. You will see many low bids because the developer has already made the same thing 3 years ago and they just keep selling it to the next sucker who wants to buy and setup his own eBay clone.


(Original) and not so Original Thoughts about Social Network Applications

 Ok, so I am going to write a little post about how to apply social psychology to Social Network applications. Most of ideas are generated when I was reading this Book (Lessons from Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive) which is a book about social psychology applied to marketing, sales and general persuasion. (Highly Recommended Summary Here )

 The ideas are useful because they apply what is known in social psychology to a social network application where most of the social behaviour actually flows over. 


Existing/ Future Application Features


An ounce of personalize extra effort is worth a pound of persuasion

Allowing users to personalise an application invite either by a custom text message. The content of the message should be written by the sender specially for the receiver.

Personalising a Graffiti Card

The herding instinct

  • By saying many people are doing it


Showing a number of users who have installed the application.

Monthly Active Users

Top 50 Application List

  • By referencing people similar to the target audience

User testimonials about the application

Friends who have installed application

Friends who have installed application

  • Increasing social approval of an action


Allowing users to reward other users for appropriate actions.

Voting on good Graffiti

Digg on a story

Comments on Blogs

Get a small commitment before asking for successively bigger ones

Making the first few steps easy

Easy levelling process for RPG games like Elven Blood for the 1st 10 Levels.

Newbie protection( more experience players cannot kick you butt)


To increase the possibility of following through – Commitment should be voluntary, active and publicly declared to others

Ask for voluntary, active and public commitments.

Causes: Abel Ho joined Society Against Child Abuse. 

The amount of information that a preceding message has affects the positive influence on the next message. The less information, the more influence the second message is.

For example, if you lift two objects – a heavy one first and then a light one – you will probably estimate the weight of the second one as lighter than if you had just lifted it by itself.



Present 3 Options to a user. 1 is hard to accomplish and 2 are easy. It is likely that the user will choose one of the 2 easy options.

Options to Increases Blessings (Elven Blood) 

Try this short test below. Imagine you need blessings in Elven Blood and this option is presented to you. Which would you choose? 

1. Complete a survey (2 Blessings)

2. Invite your friends (1 Blessing)

 Got your answer above? Now try this option group below

1. Purchase XXX (10 Blessings)

2. Complete a survey (2 Blessings)

3. Invite your friends (1 Blessing)

Now it is more likely that completing a survey is actually the more popular choice with the addition of the Purchase XXX option:)

People will be more likely to complete task and programs if there is an indication that there is already some progress towards completion instead of no progress even if the amount of actual work to completion is the same.

When starting a user on a task, give them a starting bonus instead of starting from scratch

Pet Society: Currently you start with a chest with a TV and a Sofa. They are not the best but at least you have something. Image if you started with nothing but a Pet. Would you be less likely to play with the game?

For an RPG, give users a boost in reaching the next level instead of starting them from zero. They will be more likely to want to complete that level.

A game implementation would to allow XP to spill over or only allow this in levels where you discover gamers have trouble completing.

8 thoughts on “Elven Blood Critic and Applying Social Psychology to Social Network applications

  1. kevin

    Interesting note on the 5% for niche applications and 25% for the normal mass market applications !
    However, I think that if the correct market is tapped for invitations, the accept rate could be as high as 50% for the niche applications.
    For example, an app on rock music could be started by some of these enthusaists and then their network usually has more of such people and when they send invites the chances of getting an app accept is much higher.

  2. Wenhan Post author

    Hi Kevin, I agree that invitations are sent out with thought, the accepting rate could be much higher! Good point on that your friends are likely to also have the same interest as you. That will raise the accept rate too.

  3. Pingback: Compiled and sorted listings of all Facebook Apps Critique | Doing IT with DY

  4. Boon

    Hi Hi,

    Wah I learn a lot from your Blog too, especially about the Social Psychology part! Excellent point on bite-size story too! I didnt consider that before haha…

    It is interesting to know how to get the figures of 5% and 25% though. Personally, I am not a Math person and I really really distrust statistics. For me, I see Elven Blood have 1 million users. It is a crappy game, way too traditional and geeky, most girls wont like it, but I think to myself, hey, it is still 1 million users.

    Perhaps, a niche application has higher potential of passing 1) than a mass application. The hearts and souls of a mass market is far too difficult to capture, there are too much diversity. Its hard to think of a coherent strategy when you 1) need an idea that everyone like, 2) compete for attention against other mass application people.

    In comparison, a RPG fan will probably want to add the Elven Blood, simply because it is his area of interests. Similarly, Graffiti is also a niche application catered for professional artist!

    Besides, application virality can be much higher for niche market. Niche market have niche communities and forums. Things tend to spread faster when people are excited about finding out about something cool and eager to spread to other like-minded people.

    And I believe Social Networking site is the way to go to reach out to niche market. Try finding 1 million RPG fans otherwise! With 20 million users you can find all sorts of people in the world, and easily target a specific group of people and cater to them!

    Yup, thats my 2 cents regarding niche market. =D

  5. HT

    Bro, put your social psychology portion into a slideshow and post onto Slideshare. I’m sure people will like this. If you don’t I will. 😉

    That aside, I’m thinking that what the team meant would probably be that the persistently active users are pretty niche hardcore RPG players instead of saying that the average person won’t try to game. And besides, even if the virality is low but the page view is high and bounce rate is low, ad sales would do better too!

    Btw I disagree that Graffiti is niche. DeviantArt is niche for artists, while Graffiti is also suitable for the average user just looking for nice stuff.

  6. Yu Han

    Hello, Wen Han

    wow…your chart is really impressive,
    maybe you can make it into some lecture to teach people about it,

    I feel that is really inspiring

    ‘The amount of information that a preceding message
    has affects the positive influence on the next message.
    The less information, the more influence the second message is.’

    it took me quite a while to understand it,
    but after thinking through,
    it really make me change my mind how should we
    implement the advertisement of our apps to maximize our profits…

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