Why do people buy virtual items in virtual worlds? an empirical test of a conceptual model


In the past few years, virtual worlds – such as Second Life, World of Warcraft and RuneScape – have

demonstrated the potential to be a promising online business model. Millions of paying users around

the world now participate in virtual worlds and trade virtual items with each other. However, little

empirical research has been conducted into players’ purchase behaviour in virtual worlds. To address

this research gap, the current study develops and tests a conceptual model of purchase behaviour in

the context of virtual worlds. An online survey was conducted within Second Life (n=250) and SEMPLS (Structural Equation Models by Partial Least Squares) was used to confirm the conceptual

model. Among the statistically significant paths found in the conceptual model, effort expectancy,

performance expectancy, perceived value, customisation, habit, advancement and enjoyment all have

strong impact on virtual world residents’ purchase intention. The study rounds off with a discussion

and conclusions, highlighting implications for practice, research limitations and promising areas for

future research

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