How to Improve Player Commitment: An Empirical Investigation on Mobile Massively Multiplayer Online Games


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Awarding Institution
  • Christian WAGNER (Supervisor)
  • Qingxiong WENG (External person) (External Supervisor)
Award date28 Jun 2022


With the development of mobile technology, playing mobile games has become an important part of daily life for many people. Meanwhile, as a great number of attractive new mobile games are released every day, the competition in the mobile game industry is fiercely intensive. The majority of mobile games face the challenge of player churn and lack of profits. Under this background, mobile massively multiplayer online games (MMMOG), a classic game type, dominates the mobile game achievement ranks in terms of the amount of monthly active players, revenue from players, et al. This thesis attempts to understand the antecedents of player commitment (i.e., money and energy investment) to MMMOG.

The thesis consists of three studies that untangle player commitment in the MMMOG context from different perspectives. The first study uncovers the antecedents of MMMOG players’ play frequency. Based on the social network embeddedness functions that MMMOG adopted in the game system, this study explains how social network embeddedness impacts players’ communication and collaboration in the game battleground. Communication visibility theory is used to identify the roles of identity translucence and information transparency, which embody the impacts of social network embeddedness. Besides, social capital theory is employed to explain how social network embeddedness facilitates players’ social play (i.e., social interaction, shared vision, and social support) which results in more frequently gameplay.

The second study focuses on MMMOG player behavior of purchasing in-game items. Drawing upon Wixom’s & Todd’s model and previous research on game immersion, this study defines a formative multi-dimensional immersion (i.e., sensory immersion, challenge-based immersion, avatar immersion, and social immersion) that positively affects the advancement and purchase in-game items intention. Players’ immersion experience is affected by the technical features of MMMOG such as aesthetic quality, customization, sociability, and mobile flexibility.

MMMOG operators also collaborate with live streaming platforms authorizing the broadcasting rights of games. MMMOG players have actively engaged in the game live streaming platforms in recent years. The attractiveness of MMMOG live streaming brings popularity and revenue for the game in return. The third study develops a model of the antecedents of players’ paid gifts sending behavior in the MMMOG live streaming context. The theory of social influence and social impact theory are used to build the research model. The study examines how different dimensions of social influence (i.e., self-presentation, emotional attachment, and game loyalty) impact players’ gifting behavior, and how the presence of others elicited by Danmaku as a contextual cue moderates the effects of social influences on players’ gifting behavior.

The thesis uses three theory-based empirical studies to explain player commitment in the MMMOG context. The three studies consider the impacts of MMMOG technical features, social network embeddedness functions, comprehensive immersion experience, and MMMOG live streaming social environment on players’ behaviors. This thesis not only illuminates two essential player behaviors (i.e., play frequency and purchase in-game items intention) in the game world but examines sending paid gifts behavior in the game live streaming platforms. These player behaviors are crucial for game business management, and hence highly valued by practitioners.

    Research areas

  • user behavior, mobile games, MMOG, Commitment (Psychology), social media