The (Real) World Is Not Enough: Motivational Drivers and User Behavior in Virtual Words

Eisenbeiß Maik, Blechschmidt Boris, Backhaus Klaus, Freund Philipp Alexander


Abstract
Virtual worlds (VWs) have become increasingly prominent during the past decade, populated by individual users and more recently, even "real world" firms. To effectively use a VW for business purposes, a relevant question for those firms pertains to why people use VWs and which motivational drivers might influence their participation behavior. This study offers an early analysis of the topic by extending a social influence model to explain participation behavior in a new, marketing-relevant context and identify specific motivational drivers of VW participation. Socializing, creativity, and escape emerge as individual drivers. Accounting for user heterogeneity also reveals four latent segments, each characterized by a distinct motivational driver, and one segment that reflects mixed motives. The segments differ substantially in their descriptive characteristics (e.g., usage intensity, overall spending behavior). These results have significant implications for research, VW operators, and companies doing business in VWs.

Keywords
Virtual worlds, Uses and gratification, Social influence, Motivations, Finite mixture, structural equation model



Publication type
Article in Journal

Peer reviewed
Yes

Publication status
Published

Year
2012

Journal
Journal of Interactive Marketing

Volume
26

Issue
1

Start page
4

End page
20

Language
English

ISSN
1094-9968

DOI