Microtransactions and lotteries in video-games

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Abstract: Microtransactions are part of a business model used almost extensively in the video-gaming industry where developers offer virtual goods or features via micropayments. The concept is relatively new and still unknown to many but deeply rooted in modern video-game developers’ business strategies. Microtransactions are found in smartphone applications, online games played on computer or gaming consoles, and while the concept might be unfamiliar to many, the odds are most have encountered it.   Most published games will feature in-game purchases where users have to option to purchase features, items or content for a small amount of money. A microtransaction in its most simplistic form is ad-removal, here developers offer the user a way to get rid of ads by charging a small amount, like $.99. While one microtransaction may seem insignificant, multiple impulsive purchases can quickly add up to considerable sums. This has resulted in the use of microtransactions becoming the most profitable business strategy for game developers.   This study seeks to describe what stimulates a person to complete a purchase by using the components of hedonic motivation from the HMSAM theory leading to the research question: Which hedonic motivations induce use of microtransaction systems and does it vary by age? To research the phenomena a quantitative questionnaire was formed based on hedonic motivations, including three motivations added by the author, gathering responses from 398 video-game players having completed a microtransaction purchase.   After analyzing the results, some components protruded more than others while the consensus suggested that the influence of hedonic motivation was comparatively low. The argument for this outcome may be that players see in-game items as objects of real-world value, making the microtransaction system within a game a utilitarian-motivation system. The general attitude towards microtransactions appeared to be poor which contradicts some elements of previous research while supporting others.   This thesis will contribute to the field of informatics by complementing the traditional technology acceptance model (TAM) with hedonic motivations, as proposed by Lowry et al. in 2013. The author of this study argue it is a modernized way of researching intentions to use asort of system.

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