How to encourage player retention in games that require multiple players

I have seen some games on Modd that are interesting but don’t play well with fewer than 3 or 4 players. What can a game developer do to encourage players to stay to allow other players to join? I have thought about adding sandbox mode for players to mess around or add bots that eventually get replaced by real players. Any other ideas?

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I think the most impactful thing that a developer can do to improve retention is to work on game design so it satisfies the below:

  1. game must be fun with 1 player or with 50 players
  2. player must be able to understand how to play the game within 5 seconds
  3. initially, player must be rewarded at 10 second interval at longest (earn points, get new items). Gradually, this interval can increase over time.
  4. if player has to restart (gets killed, round reset, etc), the player must feel that he/she can do better the next round (I realize that I could’ve done X, so I’m going to try again)
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