Exploring the Antecedents and Consequences of Personalizing Sport Video Game Experiences

Article excerpt

Abstract

Despite the strong appeal of personalization (through creating personalized players, teams, and leagues) in sport video games (SVGs), little is known about its marketing implications. This study explores the effect of personalization on SVG gaming enjoyment, repurchase intention, and consumption level. Further, the predictive functions of perceived skill and past experience on participants' intention to personalize their SVG experience were examined. Current users (N = 459) of a sport video game, "FIFA 06 Live", participated in the study and the results revealed that users who utilize personalization options reported they enjoy the game more, are more satisfied with the product, and spend more time playing the game than users who do not use personalization options. In addition, past experience and perceived gaming skill played significant roles in predicting individuals' intention to utilize personalization options.

Introduction

In a virtual world, people can create their own personalized characters and compete with Tiger Woods or play one-on-one with LeBron James. The development of innovative game technologies has brought unprecedented opportunities for video game players to customize their gaming experiences. For instance, sport video game (SVG) players can create their own players, teams, and leagues to compete with other players in other parts of their city, region, or country through an online connection. As such, leading video game brands (e.g., Electronic Arts) continue to develop newer versions of games, allowing fans to further customize their team building and management (Alexander, 2009). Such personalization gives individual gamers the opportunity to manipulate and optimize game playing levels that gratify their varying needs (e.g., fun, excitement).

According to Oulasvirta and Blom (2007), personalization features can align the psychological resources with the user's action and therefore increase performance and enjoyment of use. From a marketing standpoint, personalization is often utilized to create profit for the producer and increased value for the consumer (Montgomery & Smith, 2009). In the consumer behavior literature, empirical studies have found that personalized information and promotions facilitate more positive attitudes (Kalyanaraman & Sundar, 2006) and loyalty (Zhang & Wedel, 2009) toward the product/service. In this regard, it would be important for SVG marketers to understand the role of personalization on various attitudinal and behavioral consequences. For instance, would utilizing personalization options enhance the user's levels of enjoyment and repurchase intentions? Would users who create their own characters and teams spend more time playing these games? To date, however, little empirical research has examined whether personalization can enhance levels of enjoyment and consumption levels in the SVG context. Specifically, no studies were found dealing with the personalization effects on user experience. Using the hedonic consumption paradigm (Hirschman & Holbrook, 1982; Holbrook & Hirschman, 1982) as a theoretical framework, the current contribution aims to extend insight into the managerial implications of personalization in the SVG context. In particular, the present study examines the roles of past experience and perceived gaming skill on personalization intentions and attitudinal and behavioral consequences of utilizing personalization options. In order to control for potential confounds, actual SVG game users of a specific game, "FIFA 06 Live," were recruited for the study.

Backgrounds

SVG Experience

Video games are a multibillion dollar industry, generating more revenue than the film industry (Wolf, 2006). According to the Entertainment Software Association (2008), from 1996 to 2006 computer and video game sales in the United States grew from $2.6 billion to $7.4 billion. SVGs ranked second in total number of units sold in 2006, accounting for 17% of total industry sales (Entertainment Software Association, 2008). …