Social virtual worlds (SVWs) have become important environments for social interaction. At the same time, the supply and demand of virtual goods and services is rapidly increasing. For SVWs to be economically sustainable, retaining existing users and turning them into consumers are paramount challenges. This requires an understanding of the underlying reasons why users continuously engage in SVWs and purchase virtual items. This study builds upon Technology Acceptance Model, motivational model and theory of network externalities to examine continuous usage and purchase intention and it empirically tests the model with data collected from 2481 Habbo users. The results reveal a strong relationship between continuous usage and purchasing. Further, the results demonstrate the importance of the presence of other users in predicting the purchase behavior in the SVW. Continuous SVW usage in turn is predicted directly by perceived enjoyment and usefulness while the effect of attitude is marginal. Finally, perceived network externalities exert a significant influence of perceived enjoyment and usefulness of the SVW but do not have a direct effect on the continuous usage.
The full paper can be found from my ResearchGate profile
Mäntymäki, Matti & Salo, Jari (2011) Teenagers in social virtual worlds: Continuous use and purchasing behavior in Habbo Hotel. Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 27, No. 6, pp. 2088-2097.