Lets accept the Club Penguin numbers that say 4% of all virtual world players make some sort of purchase. Let's also take into account that after two weeks, the odds of a player making a purchase drop by 50%. Very rough statistics, but I believe them.
So, how does that impact how I should treat free-account bad actors? What is the risk to the bottom line if those players simply vanish?
Free customers bring value to the site in three ways:
- They become paying customers
- They refer other players who become paying customers
- They add value to the site through participation in the community.
Value possibility 1: Paying Customer. Player X has been playing for three months, and made no purchases. At this point there is a 1 in 50 chance something will happen turning him/her into a paying customer. 1 in 50 is not enough to give the player the benefit of the doubt.
Value possibility 2: Refer a Paying Customer. Player X has used the 'Invite Friends' promotion to refer one player to the site Assuming the reference is real. PlayerX has brought PlayerY to the site. PlayerY played six days, two months ago, for free. Didnt' refer anyone. There are other types of references, of course, but I have no evidence that PlayerX is a 'sneezer'.
Value possibility 3: Contribute to the community. PlayerX has generated one complaint from another player. You can assume that for every complaint, there's more people impacted, maybe a few, maybe dozens, maybe hundreds. How valuable are these players compared to PlayerX? Player X's contribution, based on limited evidence, is already a net-negative.
I don't make it a habit of deactivating accounts based on single accusations of wrong-doing, but if I did, I doubt I'd go far wrong provided I keep in mind what sort of customer is likely valuable, and which sort is not. What makes a player valuable?
- If the player has made any sort of purchase, of course.
- If the player has referred other active players or paying customers.
- If the player has ligitimately contributed to the community (hard to measure, but if I could, I would.)