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Why do people buy virtual goods? Attitude toward virtual good purchases versus game enjoyment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-308
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Information Management
Volume35
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Abstract

In this study we investigate purchase behavior for virtual goods in three free-to-play game environments. In the modern free games, publishers sell virtual goods in order to generate revenue. However, game publishers face dire negative attitudes toward the business model as it can entice publishers to degrade the enjoyment of the game in order to sell more virtual goods that address the artificial gaps in the game. This study focuses on this looming question in the game industry whether people buy virtual goods because they enjoy the game and want to keep on playing it or rather because their attitudes toward virtual goods are favorable and they believe it is also accepted in the peer-group. Player responses (N = 2791) were gathered from three different game types: social virtual world (Habbo) (n = 2156), first-person shooters (n = 398), and social networking games (Facebook games) (n = 237). The results support both main hypotheses (1) enjoyment of the game reduces the willingness to buy virtual goods while at the same time it increases the willingness to play more of the game. Continued use, however, does positively predict purchase intentions for virtual goods. (2) Attitude toward virtual goods and the beliefs about peers' attitudes strongly increase the willingness to purchase virtual goods. Beyond these interesting results the paper points to several further lines of inquiry.

Keywords

  • Business model, Free-to-play, Freemium, Online game, Virtual goods