IMPROVE CUSTOMERS LOYALTY IN ONLINE GAMING: AN EMPIRICAL STUDY Fan Zhao

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1 Fan Zhao ABSTRACT In th past dcad, onlin gams hav bcom an important lctronic commrc application A good undrstanding of customr onlin gam bhaviors is critical for both rsarchrs and practitionrs, such as gam vndors and gam dvloprs Many rsarchrs focus thir studis on th consumrs intntion to play onlin gams Howvr, th industry bcoms mor and mor intrstd in th ky factors to rtain customrs To tackl th rtntion problm, this papr proposs a rsarch framwork of onlin gam play loyalty Basd on this framwork, thirtn hypothss wr dvlopd and tstd through a survy in US univrsitis Ovrall, th rsults indicat th following: ) Onlin gam tchnology factors, such as th gam story, gam graphics, gam lngth, gam control and onlin gam srvics, hav significant impact on playrs gam njoymnt; ) am njoymnt and social norms hav positiv ffcts on intntion to play; 3) Social norms, quality of onlin gam community and intntion to play ar important prdictors of onlin gam loyalty Kywords: onlin gams, loyalty, intntion, njoymnt INTRODUCTION In rcnt yars, onlin gams hav gaind popularity around th world According to th nw Onlin am Markt Forcasts rport by DFC Intllignc (8), PC onlin gam rvnu alon passd $ billion in (not including vido onlin gams) Onlin gams ar computr controlld gams, including both PC gams and vido gams, playd by consumrs ovr ntwork tchnology, spcially through th Intrnt Onlin gams can b catgorizd into multiplayr and singl-playr gams At prsnt, multiplayr gams, spcially massivly multiplayr onlin gams (MMO) ar most succssful among all onlin gams Subscription rvnu of PC MMOs in North Amrica and Europ rachd to $58 billion in (Mdia Markt Rsarch, ) World of Warcraft, on of th famous MMO, surpasss million monthly subscribrs this yar Th rapid growth of onlin gams has caught th attntion of th gaming industry Invstigation of consumrs onlin bhavior bcoms critical According to Lo and Chn (8), th profitabl lif cycl of an onlin gam gos down to 8 months to a yar from 8 months to 3 yars in avrag in th past This mans majority onlin gam playrs switch thir gams vry 8-8 months Typical customrs only focus on on or two onlin gams at a crtain tim and customrs ar dmanding on all aspcts of th onlin gams, including gam storis, gam graphics, gam srvics, and so on (Wu, t al, 8) Thrfor, it is incrasingly important to study th ky factors for rtaining customrs in th gam As suggstd by Smijin t al (5), maintaining customr loyalty not only lowrs th cost of acquiring nw customr, but also brings in substantial rvnus Typically, th longr tim playrs play th onlin gams, th mor mony thy will spnd on th gam, and this will bring mor rvnu to th gam vndors or dvloprs Fw mpirical rsarch has bn conductd on how to xtnd currnt customrs playing tim or how to incras onlin gam playrs loyalty Th purpos of this study is to xam what factors affct onlin gam adoption and how to xtnd onlin gam playing tim THEORETICAL BACKROUND AND RESEARCH FRAMEWORK Basd on th tchnology accptanc modl (TAM) (Davis, 989) and prvious studis, w propos a concptual onlin gam loyalty modl as dpictd in Figur This modl intgrats th motivational Journal of Computr and Information Tchnology 5

2 prspctiv into th original TAM Discussions of this modl ar prsntd in th following sctions am Tchnology Social Norms Social factors profoundly impact on usr bhavior Th thory of rasond action (TRA) (Ajzn & Fishbin, 98) suggsts that a prson s bhavioral intntions ar influncd by subjctiv norms as wll as attitud Hsu and Lu () indicat that social influncs, including prcivd critical mass and social norms, significantly and dirctly, but sparatly, affct playr attitud and intntion of playing onlin gams Choi and Kim (4) also not th importanc of social intractions on continuing to play onlin gams Additionally, Chang, L, & Kim (6) mphasiz th impact of prcivd popularity on onlin gam adoption and continuanc among South Kora collg studnts Thus, w propos that social norms impact on gam njoymnt, intntion to play and onlin gam loyalty: H Thr is a positiv rlationship btwn social norms and onlin gam njoymnt H Thr is a positiv rlationship btwn social norms and intntion to play H3 Thr is a positiv rlationship btwn social norms and onlin gam loyalty Product quality is on of th crucial factors influncing customrs consumption (Chinn t al, ) For onlin products, sinc most purchasing and srvic activitis ar compltd ovr th Intrnt, both product quality and srvic quality ar important dtrminants of customrs bhavioral intntions (Boyr & Hult, 6) As onlin products, onlin gams quality is important It includs but not limitd to gam story, gam graphics, gam lngth, and gam oprations am Story Most onlin gams crat virtual nvironmnts in th gam am storis ar oftn usd to immrs gam playrs in th virtual world A good story attracts playrs attntion and incrass playrs curiosity to xplor th virtual world Th story maks th gam mor njoyabl and fulfilling Ths Journal of Computr and Information Tchnology 5

3 attractiv tasks, lik projcts in ral lif, kp playrs continuously rturning to th gam whnvr thy hav tim to play (Swtsr & Wyth, 5) A good story offrs a wondrful growing spac for th actors cratd in th gam From th bginning of th story, gam playrs watch and fl th growth of thir actors along th story phass Th good story nvironmnt lt th playrs crat th history using thir actors in th virtual world Th playrs will chrish th storis thy cratd in th gam and this will bring thm normous njoymnt in th gam and lt thm forgt all th unplasant things in thir ral livs (Wu t al, 8) Thus, w proposd that quality of gam story impacts on gam njoymnt: H4 Thr is a positiv rlationship btwn quality of gam story and onlin gam njoymnt am raphics raphic attractivnss is a ky lmnt in crating an njoyabl usr xprinc in onlin gams (Wu t al, 8) raphic dsigns for onlin gams consist of static graphics, movmnt graphics and spcial graphics Static graphics rfr to th non-movmnt itms in th gam nvironmnt A bttr dsign of static graphics maks playrs fl mor ral in th virtual world Movmnt graphics includs all th movmnt dsign in th gam, such as running, fighting, tc A bttr movmnt graphics construct mor prcis and nuancd charactrs and craturs in th gam Spcial graphics ar animations and spcial actions or poss for th charactrs in th gam Animations will incras njoymnt in th gam and spcial actions or poss will rprsnt rality raphics play a cntral rol in how popl prciv and njoy th gam xprinc (Fldman, ) It givs th playr a whol nw lvl of fl, xcitmnt and atmosphr Thrfor, th bttr th graphics dsignd, th mor njoymnt customrs may hav (Choi t al, 4) W propos that quality of gam graphics impacts on gam njoymnt: H5 Thr is a positiv rlationship btwn quality of gam graphics and onlin gam njoymnt am Lngth Th gam lngth rfrs to th avrag tim gam playrs complt th onlin gams by raching th highst lvl of th actors, winning th final gam itms, or complting all th cor gam tasks Thr is no bst numbr to targt rgarding onlin gam lngth bcaus ach onlin gam is uniqu with spcial story and spcial gam sttings Howvr, thr could b an idal lngth uniquly for ach gam (Zschuk & Muzyka, 4) For a crtain gam, playrs will not hav nough tim to njoy th story and all th graphic dsigns in th gam if th gam is too short On th othr hand, if th lngth of th onlin gam is xtndd too long, playrs may b xhaustd and vntually quit if thy can hardly s th nd of th road Additionally, sinc gam playrs ntr th sam onlin gams in diffrnt tims, som playrs may find unfair situations if thy ntr th gam vry lat An appropriat gam lngth will lad to an njoyabl xprinc Thus, w propos that gam lngth impacts on gam njoymnt: H6 Thr is a positiv rlationship btwn appropriat gam lngth and onlin gam njoymnt Prcivd Eas of Us Th tchnology accptanc modl (TAM) (Davis, 989) is on of th most widly usd modls for IT adoption According to TAM, an individual s IT adoption is influncd by prcivd usfulnss and prcivd as of us Prcivd as of us (PEOU) rfrs to th dgr to which a prson blivs that using a particular systm would b fr of ffort In a gaming contxt, prcivd usfulnss is no longr applicabl and thrfor not an appropriat masur of xtrinsic motivation (Van dr Hijdn, 4) Prcivd as of us focuss on th us of th intrfac of th onlin gams W propos that prcivd as of us impacts on gam njoymnt: Journal of Computr and Information Tchnology 53

4 H Thr is a positiv rlationship btwn prcivd as of us and onlin gam njoymnt Onlin am Srvics Srvic quality is on of th ky factors in - commrc succss (Wang, 8) Th quality of onlin gam srvics ar valuatd dirctly by gam playrs according to th rspons promptnss, problm solving ability, problm solving tim, information richnss of th gam, attntion to particular playr nds, promis-kping, gam mastr (instant hlpr in th gam) srvic bhavior, and so on Onlin playrs will prciv th srvics and mak thir judgmnts to dtrmin th srvic quality Thir judgmnts significantly impact on thir njoymnt of th gam playing (Holsappl & Wu, 8) Thus, w propos that quality of onlin gam srvics impacts on gam njoymnt: H8 Thr is a positiv rlationship btwn quality of onlin gam srvics and onlin gam njoymnt Onlin am Community An onlin community is dfind as social groups of popl who communicat with ach othr via ntwork tchnology, such as Intrnt Through th onlin gam community, playrs shar thir gam information, sk hlps from th community for gam activitis, and vn build thir social ntwork byond th gam This community ntwork ncourags playr intntion to play th gam and vntually incras thir loyalty to th gam (Hsu & Lu, ) Thus, w propos that quality of onlin gam srvics impacts on gam njoymnt, intntion to play and onlin gam loyalty: H9 Thr is a positiv rlationship btwn quality of onlin gam community and onlin gam njoymnt H Thr is a positiv rlationship btwn quality of onlin gam community and intntion to play H Thr is a positiv rlationship btwn quality of onlin gam community and onlin gam loyalty am Enjoymnt Strong mpirical vidnc indicats that th motivational basis of human activity rlis on two rathr indpndnt systms: a so-calld approach systm and an avoidanc systm (Elliot, & Thrash, ) Activation of th approach systm rsults in plasur, whras activation of th avoidanc systm lads to pain (Brridg, 3) Rsarch in psychology and nuroscinc most oftn uss th trm plasur to dscrib agrabl ractions to xprincs in gnral Most communication rsarchrs hav usd th trm njoymnt to dscrib and xplain such positiv ractions toward th mdia and its contnts Our framwork uss njoymnt to dscrib and xplain positiv ractions drivd from gam play According to prvious studis (Van dr Hijdn, 4; Holsappl & Wu, 8; Koufaris, ), prcivd njoymnt significantly impacts on customrs intntion to us onlin srvics or systms Thus, w propos that gam njoymnt impacts on intntion to play: H Thr is a positiv rlationship btwn gam njoymnt and intntion to play Intntion to play and onlin gam loyalty Intntion to play is th positiv attitud or prfrnc to play onlin gams Most studis adopting th thory of rasond action (TRA) focus on intntion to us crtain information systms (Van dr Hijdn, 4; Koufaris, ) Howvr, intntion to play only mans that th customrs hav positiv attitud or prfrnc to play th gam (Lu & Wang, 8) Thy may not continu to play th gams in th futur if thr ar nw gams availabl Howvr, customr loyalty has bcom on of th important issus in -commrc Loyal customrs will kp a longr rlationship with th businss and us th srvics for a longr tim (Otim & rovr, 6) Loyalty is th intntion to kp using crtain Journal of Computr and Information Tchnology 54

5 srvics or systms In this articl, w dfin onlin gam loyalty as th dgr to which gam playrs bliv that thy will continu to play th gam Thus, w propos that intntion to play has an impact on onlin gam loyalty: H3 Thr is a positiv rlationship btwn intntion to play and onlin gam loyalty METHODOLOY Data collction A survy was conductd in two US univrsitis A total of 35 usabl qustionnairs wr collctd Among th rspondnts, 3 wr mal and 4 wr fmal All of th accptd participants hav xprinc of playing onlin gams (avrag playing tim is hours/wk) Masurs Th masurs of this study wr adaptd from prvious studis with modifications to fit th spcific contxt of th onlin gam playing All th masurmnts wr phrasd on a svn-point Likrt scal, from =strongly disagr to =strongly agr Tabl shows th instrumnt rfrncs for th survy qustionnairs Tabl Instrumnt Rfrncs Construct Rfrncs Social Norms Wu & Liu, 8 am Wu, t al, 8 Story am Wu, t al, 8 raphics am Lngth Wu, t al, 8 Prcivd Eas Hsu & Lu, of us Holsappl & Wu, Onlin gam 8 srvics Onlin gam Holsappl & Wu, 8 community am Wu & Liu, 8 njoymnt Intntion to play Hsu & Lu, Onlin gam Lu & Wang, 8 loyalty RESULTS In th data analysis, w first validatd th rliability and validity of th masurmnts and thn conductd a structural modling analysis Th masurmnt modl Rliability As Fornll (98) and Nunnally (96) suggst, a composit rliability of or abov and an avrag varianc xtractd of mor than 5 ar dmd accptabl Tabl shows th composit rliabilitis rang from 6 to 9 and th avrag varianc xtractd rangs from 53 to 6 for all th masurs Validity Tabl 3 shows that th squar root of avrag varianc xtractd for ach construct is gratr than th corrlations btwn th constructs and all othr constructs This implis that constructs ar mpirically distinct Th rsults suggst an adquat discriminat validity of th masurmnts Th structural modl W adoptd maximum liklihood mthod to stimat th framwork According to Brown & Cudck (993) and Jorskg & Sorbom (989), an accptabl fit xists whr AFI>8 and RMSEA< Th fit statistics indicat that th rsarch modl provids a good fit to th data (AFI=89; RMSEA=) Figur shows th rsults of structural modling analysis Th findings indicatd that gam tchnology, including quality of gam story, quality of gam graphics, gam lngth, prcivd as of us, and quality of onlin gam Journal of Computr and Information Tchnology 55

6 srvics) positd a significant ffct on gam njoymnt Social Norms did not hav any significant impact on gam njoymnt Howvr, it had significant dirct ffcts on both intntion to play and onlin gam loyalty onlin gam community xhibitd significant impact on onlin gam loyalty, but th data did not support quality of onlin gam community as a prdictor to both gam njoymnt and intntion to play In summary, th rsults supportd hypothsis, 3, 4, 5, 6,, 8,, and 3, rspctivly Tabl Rliability Masurs Construct Itm Loading Composit rliability Avrag varianc xtractd Social Norms am Story am raphics am Lngth Prcivd Eas of us Onlin gam srvics Onlin gam community am njoymnt Intntion to play Onlin gam SN SN 8 SN3 85 S S 4 S L 9 56 L 85 L3 4 PE PE 84 PE3 9 QS QS 9 QS3 84 QC 86 6 QC 89 QC3 85 E E 8 E3 9 I I 86 I3 88 L L 85 loyalty L3 8 L4 9 Tabl 3 Corrlation Matrix of th Constructs Soci al Nor ms (SN) Qual ity of am Stor y (S) Qual ity of am rap hics () am Lng th (L) Prc iv d Eas of us (PE) Qual ity of Onli n gam srvi cs (QS) Qual ity of Onli S N S L 6 P E 6 8 Q S 8 Q C 8 E I L Journal of Computr and Information Tchnology 56

7 n gam com muni ty (QC) am njo ym nt (E) Intn tion to play (I) Onli n gam loyal ty (L) CONCLUSIONS Th purpos of this study was to xam th ky factors affcting customrs onlin gam loyalty Th masurmnt modl was confirmd with adquat convrgnt and discriminant validity Th structural modl providd a good fit to th data Svn of th tn paths wr found statistically significant and th rmaining thr paths (from Social Norms to gam njoymnt, from quality of onlin gam community to both gam njoymnt and intntion to play) wr not significant Th rsults showd that tchnology factors of an onlin gam, such as th gam story, gam graphics, gam lngth, as of us of th gam and onlin gam srvics, playd an important rol in playrs gam njoymnt Social norms wr found an important prdictor to both intntion to play and onlin gam loyalty, but not to gam njoymnt Intrstingly, quality of onlin gam community influncd onlin gam loyalty, but it did not posit a significant impact Journal of Computr and Information Tchnology 5

8 on both gam njoymnt and intntion to play Onlin gam community provids gam rlatd information for playrs It may not dirctly impact playrs prspctivs about playing th gam In othr words, playrs can gathr usful information about onlin gams from th community, but thy may not fl njoyabl by collcting th information from th wbsit Similarly, visiting community may not dirctly stimulat customrs intntion to play th gam W thrfor bliv that quality of onlin gam community is not a crucial factor in xplaining both gam njoymnt and intntion to play Furthrmor, th data rvald that gam njoymnt playd a critical rol in dtrmining intntion to play and th lattr has significant impact on onlin gam loyalty This rsarch maks svral contributions to our largr undrstanding of onlin gam adoptions and customr loyalty First, w idntify attributs that may contribut to customr onlin gam loyalty In addition, as on of th fw attmpts to invstigat onlin gam loyalty, our study provids a concptual modl that will hlp rsarchrs clarify critical issus of onlin gam playing, such as how and why customrs may b a loyal onlin gam playr Ths constructs ar xtrmly important to onlin gam rsarch and thy will contribut significantly to th study of customr bhaviors in onlin gam playing Our findings also provid practitionrs (gam vndors, gam dvlopr, and so on) important guidlins on th dsign and implmntation of th onlin gam innovations According to our study, to incras gam playrs loyalty, practitionrs should try to focus on thir gam tchnologis, such as a good gam story, grat graphic dsign, appropriat lngth of th gam, asy gam control, and good gam srvics Thy also should pay attntion to thir onlin gam community to nsur customrs hav positiv prspctivs to th community REFERENCES Ajzn, I, & Fishbin, M (98) Undrstanding attituds and prdicting social bhavior Englwood Cliffs, NJ: Prntic-Hall Brridg, K C (3) Plasurs of th brain, Brain & Cognition, Vol 5, pp 6 8 Boyr, K & Hult, (6) Customr bhavioral intntions for onlin purchass: An xamination of fulfillmnt mthod and customr xprinc lvl, Journal of Oprations Managmnt, Vol 4, pp 4-4 Brown, M & Cudck, R (993) Altrnativ ways of assssing modl fit, in: Bolln, K & Long, J (Eds), Tsting Structural Modls, Sag Publications, Nwbury, CA, 36-6 Chang, B, L, S, & Kim, B (6) Exploring factors affcting th adoption and continuanc of onlin gams among collg studnts in South Kora, Nw Mdia & Socity, 8(), Chinn, K, Jun, M, & Hampton, () Product quality, markt prsnc, and buying bhavior: Aggrgat impags of forign products in th US, Multinational Businss Rviw, Vol 8, No, pp 9-38 Choi, S, Chang, H, & Kim, K (4) Dvlopmnt of Forc-Fdback Dvic for PC- am using vibration, ACE 4, Singapor Choi, D, & Kim, J (4) Why popl continu to play onlin gams: in sarch of critical dsign factors to incras customr loyalty to onlin contnts, Cybrpsychology & Bhavior, Vol, No, pp -4 Davis, F D (989) Prcivd usfulnss, prcivd as of us, and usr accptanc of information tchnology, MIS Quartrly, Vol 3, No3, pp Journal of Computr and Information Tchnology 58

9 DFC Intllignc (8) availabl onlin in Octobr 8 at Elliot, A J, & Thrash, T M () Approachavoidanc motivation in prsonality: Approach and avoidanc tmpramnt and goals, Journal of Prsonality and Social Psychology, Vol 8, pp Fldman, A () Dsigning Arcad Computr am raphics Wordwar Publishing Fornll, C (98) A scond gnration of multivariat analysis mthods Nw York: Pragr Spcial Studis Journal of Computr and Information Tchnology 59

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