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School of Business | Department of Information and Service Economy | Information Systems Science | 2013
Thesis number: 13369
Factors influencing microtransaction monetization- model success in digital games
Author: Tuovinen, Kai
Title: Factors influencing microtransaction monetization- model success in digital games
Year: 2013  Language: eng
Department: Department of Information and Service Economy
Academic subject: Information Systems Science
Index terms: tietojärjestelmät; information systems; virtuaalitodellisuus; virtual reality; digitaalitekniikka; digital technology; pelit; games; viihde; entertainment; mikrotalous; microeconomics; maksut; payments; ostot; industrial purchasing
Pages: 67
Key terms: Microtransactions; Micropayments; Video Games; Monetization; Virtual Goods; Digital Goods; Information Goods; Virtual Consumption; Gaming Virtual Worlds; Free-to-play; Freemium; Business Model
Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this study were to investigate microtransaction based monetization models in games, and to find factors that influence their success and suitability. The research goal was to interview players, in order to get answers regarding their motivations behind microtransaction purchasing in games.

Academic background and methodology

The literature review focused on virtual goods research. Overall, there were many factors identified that impact the success of virtual goods. Two game design-related issues could be seen at the forefront: The game environment design and its mechanics are powerful shaping tools for demand. The item design and different attributes (social, functional and hedonistic) also affect their desirability. The purchasing of virtual items seems to be a planned and a thought out process, meaning impulse purchases are rare, and a certain level of commitment and use of the game precedes the actual purchases. As many of the items sold through microtransactions are cosmetic and character appearance altering, a multiplayer environment can be thought to be a necessity for their success, because they are bought in order to look different from other players.

The research methodology used was interviews with a semi-structure. Freeform answering was encouraged in order to reduce the influence on the interviewee's answers.

Findings and conclusions

The success of microtransactions can be seen as the sum of many factors. The reasons behind purchasing of in-game items were divided into prerequisites, supporting factors and core reasons.

A commitment of time spent on playing games often preceded the purchasing of in-game items. As playing games comes before the purchasing of in-game items, a prerequisite of monetization success was that the game itself had to be good.

A social and multiplayer environment was found to be necessary for microtransaction-based item selling success, as many of the items deemed interesting by the players would have no value in a single-player game. Pressure from social environment was found to be a supporting factor for purchasing success, but more in the form of recommendations from others, or being able to see interesting items on others.

In terms of itemization, players found aesthetic items the most suitable, and disliked the selling of anything that alters gameplay, with the exception of some timesaving and convenience items.

Game mechanics were found to create demand and increase the sale of items, by limiting access to content or features, or by offering time saving and convenience to deal with repetitive and tedious tasks.

For some players, the core reason for purchasing microtransaction items was to support the developers of the game.
Master's theses are stored at Learning Centre in Otaniemi.