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In-world purchasing behavior boosts the user experience in virtual worlds

Our study titled “Purchasing behavior in social virtual worlds: An examination of Habbo Hotel” examines to what extent the characteristics of the user experience that motivate usage behavior can also be used to predict purchasing virtual products and services in a virtual world environment.

Spending real money on virtual goods and services has become a popular form of online consumer behavior, particularly among teenagers. Our study builds on the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) to examine the role of motivation, social influence, measured with perceived network size as well as user interface and facilitating conditions in predicting the intention to engage in purchasing in social virtual worlds. The research model is tested with data from 1045 users of Habbo Hotel, at the time of the study the most popular virtual world for teenagers. The results underscore the role of perceived network size and motivational factors in explaining in-world purchase decisions.

In a nutshell, the study empirically shows that virtual purchasing behavior is substantially influenced by the factors driving usage behavior. Hence, we suggest that virtual purchasing can be understood as a means to enhance the user experience. For virtual world operators, reinforcing the sense of presence of user’s social network may be a viable approach to promote virtual purchasing.

The full paper can be found from the publisher’s site as well as my ResearchGate profile

Bibliographic information

Mäntymäki, Matti & Salo, Jari (2013) “Purchasing behavior in social virtual worlds: An examination of Habbo Hotel”, International Journal of Information Management, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 282-290.