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What are users’ intentions towards real money trading in massively multiplayer online games?


This study investigates user behaviour in massively multiplayer online games from the perspective of their intentions to engage in real money trading. Players who engage in real money trading purchase resources instead of spending time to acquire them in the game. This behaviour influences not just their own gaming experience, but those of other players as well as the operator’s revenues. We present an online survey which targets the players of World of Warcraft. Players’ relationships with real money trading are investigated using insights from behavioural economics. We propose a model which includes a set of behavioural determinants grounded in empirical research on online games. The study’s findings indicate that a player’s social status and the disinhibiting effects of online play are positive influences on players’ intentions to engage in real money trading, while perceived fairness, anticipated regret and uncertainty about the seller’s behaviour are negative influences. Interestingly, neither the perceived enjoyment nor the potential punishments influence intentions.

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We appreciate the thoughtful feedback of Robert Veitch on previous versions of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ioanna Constantiou.

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Responsible editor: Hans-Dieter Zimmermann

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Constantiou, I., Legarth, M.F. & Olsen, K.B. What are users’ intentions towards real money trading in massively multiplayer online games?. Electron Markets 22, 105–115 (2012).

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  • User intentions
  • Massively multiplayer online games
  • Real money trading
  • Dual–self model

JEL classification

  • L86
  • D03