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The GAMESbrief Glossary:
Likeability is one of the six Influence Principles which are used to persuade people to buy products or services.
We’re far more likely to buy things from someone we like. That’s the basis of a huge range of marketing and sales activity – from using physically attractive models to promote products, through to the jovial, friendly approach of many salesmen to their potential clients. “Likeable” is a very broad church – and notably, one which varies significantly across different demographics and different regions. However, the basic principle remains the same – if you like the person selling, you’re more likely to buy.
The implications for games are significant. Your game and its characters should be Likeable, of course – that much goes without saying, although it’s worth bearing in mind that cute or cool character designs function to enhance Likeability as well as simply being attractive. The developer, too, ought to be Likeable – both through a good social media presence and positive customer interactions, and through being generous within the bounds of the game itself. Likeability doesn’t just make people more likely to buy; it makes them feel much more comfortable with becoming high-spending True Fans.
The Influence Principles are based on Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which you ought to read. The other five principles are Reciprocity, Commitment, Social Proof, Authority and Scarcity.