Why Buy Virtual Helmets and Weapons? Introducing a Typology of Gamers

Nowadays, a huge number of individuals purchase virtual items in constantly growing service environments: online game communities. Some researchers have studied gamers’ motivations to purchase virtual game items in general, but no one has separated different gamer types regarding their purchasing motivations. Understanding different gamer types is important because gamers may purchase the same virtual game items, such as helmets and weapons, for different individual reasons. Given the importance of the topic and the research gap, we introduce a typology of gamers regarding their motivations to purchase game items by conducting an empirical study on actual first-person shooter (FPS) gamers. As a theoretical contribution, our findings reveal three groups of game-item buyers (aesthetes, adventurers, and performers) and one group of non-buyers (critics). Our results indicate that, even in the context of performance-centric FPS games, hedonic motivations are dominant, particularly for the gamer groups that were most likely to purchase game items in the future. Interestingly, we could not find a group of gamers that emphasized merely functional aspects as purchasing motivations. In line with these findings, we present practical implications for game providers to manage and market their selection of game items in more suitable and efficient ways.

Presented at 28th Bled eConference – June 7-June 10, 2015

Lauri Frank, Markus Salo, Anssi Toivakka (University of Jyväskylä): Why Buy Virtual Helmets and Weapons? Introducing a Typology of Gamers