Electronic Markets

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 307–316 | Cite as

Virtual worlds in competitive contexts: Analyzing eSports consumer needs

  • Thomas WeissEmail author
  • Sabrina Schiele
Special Theme


More recently, 3D graphical environments on the Internet, that is virtual worlds, have moved to the center of scientific interest. Since virtual worlds are suggested to mold social computing, research has predominately focused on collaborative virtual worlds. Yet, virtual worlds increasingly move to competitive environments leaving operating businesses with the question as to what to offer in order to fulfill customers’ needs. To close this knowledge gap, we examine competitive virtual worlds in terms of eSports services intrinsically tying cooperation and competition; we illuminate competitive and hedonic need gratifications of continuous eSports use. We apply Uses and Gratifications theory reporting on ten in-depth expert interviews as well as survey data collected from 360 eSports players. We reveal that both competitive (competition and challenge) and hedonic need gratifications (escapism) drive continuous eSports use.


Virtual worlds eSports Uses and gratifications 

JEL classification

M1–Business Administration M19–Other 


  1. Baer, M., Leenders, R., Oldham, G., & Vadera, A. (2010). Win or lose the battle for creativity: the power and perils of intergroup competition. Academy of Management Journal, 53(4), 827–845.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bainbridge, W. (2007). The scientific research potential of virtual worlds. Science, 317(5837), 472–476. doi: 10.1126/science.1146930.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown, S., Venkatesh, V., & Bala, H. (2006). Household technology use: integrating household life cycle and the model of adoption of technology in households. The Information Society, 22(4), 205–218. doi: 10.1080/01972240600791333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cerulo, K. (1997). Identity construction: new issues, new directions. Annual Review of Sociology, 23(1), 385–409. doi: 10.1146/annurev.soc.23.1.385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen, K., Chen, J., & Ross, W. (2010). Antecedents of online game dependency: the implications of multimedia realism and uses and gratifications theory. Journal of Database Management, 21(2), 69–99. doi: 10.4018/jdm.2010112304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cole, H., & Griffiths, M. (2007). Social interaction in massively multiplayer online role-playing gamers. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 10(4), 575–583. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2007.9988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Davenport, T., & Prusak, L. (1998). Working knowledge. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  8. Davis, F., Bagozzi, R., & Warshaw, P. (1989). User acceptance of computer technology: a comparison of two theoretical models. Management Science, 35(8), 982–1003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. ESA (2008). Essential facts about the computer and video game industry 2008: Sales, demographic and usage Data., accessed on 08/30/2011.
  10. Fetscherin, M., & Lattemann, C. (2008). User acceptance of virtual worlds. Journal of Electronic Commerce Research, 9(3), 231–242.Google Scholar
  11. Fischer, P., Kubitzki, J., Guter, S., & Frey, D. (2007). Virtual driving and risk taking: do racing games increase risk-taking cognitions, affect, and behaviors? Journal of Experimental Psychology. Applied, 13(1), 22–31. doi: 10.1037/1076-898X.13.1.22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Frostling-Henningsson, M. (2009). First-Person shooter games as a way of connecting to people: “Brothers in blood”. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 12(5), 557–562. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2008.0345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Green, S. (1991). How many subjects does it take to do a regression analysis? Multivariate Behavioural Research, 26(3), 499–510. doi: 10.1207/s15327906mbr2603_7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Griffiths, M. (1993). Are computer games bad for children? The Psychologist: Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, 6(1), 401–407.Google Scholar
  15. Griffiths, M., Davies, M., & Chappell, D. (2003). Breaking the stereotype: the case of online gaming. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 6(1), 81–91. doi: 10.1089/109493103321167992.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gu, B., Konana, P., Rajagopalan, B., & Chen, H.-W. (2007). Competition among virtual communities and user valuation: the case of investing-related communities. Information Systems Research, 18(1), 68–85. doi: 10.1287/isre.1070.0114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Heckman, J. J. (1979). Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error. Econometrica, 47(1), 153–161. Scholar
  18. Ho, S., & Huang, C.-H. (2009). Exploring success factors of video game communities in hierarchical linear modeling: the perspectives of members and leaders. Computers in Human Behavior, 25(3), 761–769. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2009.02.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Holsapple, C., & Wu, J. (2007). User acceptance of virtual worlds: the hedonic framework. SIGMIS Database, 38(4), 86–89. doi: 10.1145/1314234.1314250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hsu, C.-L., & Lu, H.-P. (2007). Consumer behavior in online game communities: a motivational factor perspective. Computers in Human Behavior, 23(3), 1642–1659. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2005.09.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hussain, Z., & Griffiths, M. (2009). The attitudes, feelings, and experiences of online gamers: a qualitative analysis. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 12(6), 747–753. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2009.0059.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ilie, A., Ioan, S., Zagrean, L., & Moldovan, M. (2008). Better to be red than blue in virtual competition. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 11(3), 375–377. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2007.0122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jansz, J., & Tanis, M. (2007). Appeal of playing online first person shooter games. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 10(1), 133–136. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2006.9981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kankanhalli, A., Tan, B., & Wei, K.-K. (2005). Contributing knowledge to electronic knowledge repositories: an empirical investigation. MIS Quarterly, 29(1), 113–143.Google Scholar
  25. Klimmt, C., Hefner, D., & Vorderer, P. (2009). The video game experience as ‘true’ identification: a theory of enjoyable alterations of players’ self-perception. Communication Theory, 19(4), 351–373. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2885.2009.01347.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Klimmt, C., Schmid, H., & Orthmann, J. (2009). Exploring the enjoyment of playing browser games. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 12(2), 231–234. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2008.0128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lucas, K., & Sherry, J. (2004). Sex differences in video game play: a communication-based explanation. Communication Research, 31(5), 499–523. doi: 10.1177/0093650204267930.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mantymaki, M., & Riemer, K. (2011). How social are social virtual worlds? An investigation of hedonic, utilitarian, social and normative usage drivers. In Peter B. Seddon und Shirley Gregor (Eds.). Proceedings of the 15th Pacific Asia Conference on Information Systems (PACIS). Brisbane, Australia, July 7–11. AIS: Queensland, Australia.Google Scholar
  29. Mäyrä, F. (2008). An introduction to game studies: Games and culture. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  30. Messinger, P., Stroulia, E., Lyons, K., Bone, M., Niu, A., Smirnov, K., et al. (2009). Virtual worlds – Past, present, and future: new directions in social computing. Decision Support Systems, 47(3), 204–228. doi: 10.1016/j.dss.2009.02.014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mueller, J., Hutter, K., Fueller, J., Matzler, K. (2010). Virtual worlds as knowledge management platform – a practice-perspective. Information Systems Journal, accepted. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2575.2010.00366.x
  32. Petrakou, A. (2010). Interacting through avatars: virtual worlds as a context for online education. Computers in Education, 54(4), 1020–1027. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2009.10.007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Phillips, C., Rolls, S., Rouse, A., & Griffiths, M. (1995). Home video game playing in schoolchildren: a study of incidence and patterns of play. Journal of Adolescence, 18(6), 687–691. doi: 10.1006/jado.1995.1049.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Podsakoff, P., MacKenzie, S., Lee, J.-Y., & Podsakoff, N. (2003). Common method biases in behavioural research: a critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(5), 879–903. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.88.5.879.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rajanen, M., & Iivari, N. (2007). Usability cost-benefit analysis: How usability became a curse word? In C. Baranauskas, P. Palanque, & J. Abascal (Eds.), Proceedings of the 11th IFIP TC 13 Conference (pp. 511–524). Springer-Verlag: Berlin.Google Scholar
  36. Rayburn, J., & Palmgreen, P. (1984). Merging uses and gratifications and expectancy-value theory. Communication Research, 11(4), 537–562. doi: 10.1177/009365084011004005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rossiter, J. (2002). The C-OAR-SE procedure for scale development in marketing. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 19(4), 305–335. doi: 10.1016/S0167-8116(02)00097-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ruggiero, T. (2000). Uses and gratifications theory in the 21st century. Mass Communication & Society, 3(1), 3–37. doi: 10.1207/S15327825MCS0301_02.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ryan, R., & Deci, E. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 54–67. doi: 10.1006/ceps.1999.1020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sangwan, S. (2005). Virtual community success: A uses and gratifications perspective [Electronic Version]. In Proceedings of the 38th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS) 2005, January 3–6. Big Island, HA.. Retrieved on 2011-09-14, from ACM Digital Library. doi: 10.1109/HICSS.2005.673.
  41. Schubert, T. (2009). A new conception of spatial presence: once again, with feeling. Communication Theory, 19(2), 161–187. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2885.2009.01340.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schultze, U. (2010). Embodiment and presence in virtual worlds: a review. Journal of Information Technology, 25(4), 434–449. 10.1057/jit.2010.25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schultze, U., & Orlikowski, W. (2010). Virtual worlds: a performative perspective on globally distributed, immersive work. Information Systems Research, 21(4), 810–821. doi: 10.1287/isre.1100.0321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sherry, J., & Lucas, K. (2003). Video game uses and gratifications as predictors of use and game preference [Electronic Version]. In Proceedings of the International Communication Association Annual Conference (ICA) 2003, May 23–27. San Diego, CA. Retrieved on 2010-11-14, from allacademic Research.Google Scholar
  45. Sherry, J., Greenberg, B., Lucas, S., & Lachlan, K. (2006). Video game uses and gratifications as predictors of use and game preference. In P. Vorderer & J. Bryant (Eds.), Playing computer games: Motives, responses and consequences. Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  46. Shin, D. (2009). Virtual gratifications of wireless Internet: Is wireless portable Internet reinforced by unrealized gratifications? Telematics and Informatics, 26(1), 44–56. doi: 10.1016/j.tele.2007.12.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Song, I., LaRose, R., Eastin, M., & Lin, C. (2004). Internet gratifications and Internet addiction: on the uses and abuses of new media. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 7(4), 384–394. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2004.7.384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Stafford, T., Stafford, R., & Schkade, L. (2004). Determining uses and gratifications for the Internet. Decision Sciences, 35(2), 259–288. doi: 10.1111/j.00117315.2004.02524.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Taylor, T. (2006). Play between worlds. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  50. v.d. Heijden, H. (2004). User acceptance of hedonic information systems. MIS Quarterly, 28(4), 695–704.Google Scholar
  51. Venkatesh, V., & Brown, S. (2001). A longitudinal investigation of personal computers in homes: adoption determinants and emerging challenges. MIS Quarterly, 25(1), 71–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wasko, M., & Faraj, S. (2005). Why should I share? Examining social capital and knowledge contribution in electronic networks of practice. MIS Quarterly, 29(1), 35–57.Google Scholar
  53. Wei, R., & Lo, V.-H. (2006). Staying connected while on the move: cell phone use and social connectedness. New Media and Society, 8(1), 53–72. doi: 10.1177/1461444806059870.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Weiss, T. (2008). Cultural influences on hedonic adoption behavior: Propositions regarding the adoption of competitive video and computer online gaming [Electronic Version]. In Proceedings of the SIG-DIGIT Workshop 2008, December 14. Paris, France., accessed on 11/14/2010.
  55. Weiss, T. (2011). Fulfilling the Needs of eSports Consumers: A Uses and Gratifications Perspective. In Proceedings of the 24th Bled eConference “eFuture: Creating Solutions for the Individual, Organisations and Society”. Bled, Slovenia, June 12-15.Google Scholar
  56. Weiss, T., & Loebbecke, C. (2008). Online gaming adoption in competitive social networks: Combining the theory of planned behavior and social network theory [Electronic Version]. In Proceedings of the Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS) 2008, August 14-17. Toronto, ON, Canada., accessed on 11/14/2010.
  57. Weiss, T., & Loebbecke, C. (2009). Participating in competitive online games: Analyzing competitive and hedonic decision elements. Presentation held at the European Conference on Operational Research (EURO XXIII) 2009, July 5-8. Bonn, Germany.Google Scholar
  58. Williams, D., Yee, N., & Caplan, S. (2008). Who plays, how much, and why? Debunking the stereotypical gamer profile. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(4), 993–1018. doi: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2008.00428.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Yee, N. (2006). Motivations of play in online games. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 9(6), 772–775. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2006.9.772.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zhao, Q. (2011). 10 scientific problems in virtual reality. Communications of the ACM, 54(2), 116–118. doi: 10.1145/1897816.1897847.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zhou, Z., Jin, X.-L., Vogel, D., Guo, X., & Chen, X. (2010). Individual motivations for using social virtual worlds: An exploratory investigation in second life. In R. H. Sprague (Ed.), Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS) (pp. 1–10). New York: IEEE Press Books. doi: 10.1109/HICSS.2010.230.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Institute of Information Management, University of St. Gallen 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Business, Media and Technology ManagementUniversity of CologneCologneGermany
  2. 2.Department of Information Systems and Information ManagementUniversity of CologneCologneGermany

Personalised recommendations