The (Real) World Is Not Enough: Motivational Drivers and User Behavior in Virtual Words
Eisenbeiß Maik, Blechschmidt Boris, Backhaus Klaus, Freund Philipp Alexander
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.
Virtual worlds; Uses and gratification; Social influence; Motivations; Finite mixture; structural equation model