We are all familiar with the principle that you can design anything as a bonus or a penalty, right? You can give characters a “hunger” debuff, or you can give them a “well fed” buff for eating food; if you balance enemies with the assumption that everyone will have eaten, the practical effect is negligible, but players like the idea of being rewarded instead of being punished. Similarly, most games give you the normal amount of experience if you are “rested” in some form, rather than saying that you only earn half xp if you play too much. No, it’s not “bonus xp” where you are somehow putting something over the very developers who implemented it.
Most Facebook games reward you for logging in every day or having many friends. Many will even give you increasingly large bonuses for playing many days in a row or for having many friends. I have found two that take the opposite approach to an idiotic degree. Hotel City is the latest from Playfish, and if you go a few days without playing, cockroaches will take over your rooms so you must pay to clean them out. Yes, they punish you for returning to the game after an absence. Food Friendzy randomly hits you with a “21 Club” tile. If you have at least 21 friends playing, you get 21 points for landing on it; if not, you lose 21 points. That sounds like an unfortunate prospect to bootstrap: “Come play this game with me where we get punished for not having enough friends playing. No, not many, we’ll need to recruit about 12 more, why do you ask?” It is also one of the worst excuses for a game I have ever seen, where the entire gameplay is picking tiles at random to get points. Many of those tiles will make you lose points, including “lose all” and one that flips your score from positive to negative. And then they will mock your “strategy” if your score ends in the negative.