A foundation for a model of subjective value in free-to-play games
Mobile gaming is an emerging trend in the gaming community. Many of these games are known as "free-to-play" or "freemium". Users can play a mobile game for free, but can also purchase a large number of virtual goods within that game. A large body of literature exists that attempts to explain the behavior of people who purchase virtual goods in freeto-play games. Most of these articles spend time defining classic decision making paradigms that may apply to the virtual markets developed by game creators. Despite the number of articles that speculate on the relationship between free-to-play in-game transactions and decision making concepts, there remains an absence of literature that conducts empirical research to test these hypotheses. This dissertation examined delay, risk, and exchange rate as a function of subjective value. For the third and fourth studies, the delays and exchange rates were selected to resemble wait times and currencies that someone might experience in a free-to-play game. Results suggest that participants are less risk seeking with game-like currencies compared to United States dollars. These results explain why free-to-play gamers might be willing to make in-app purchases. Future research should iterate on these studies to investigate more patterns of free-to-play games as they relate to decision making.
Thesis (Ph.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Psychology