Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

When Does Frustration Not Reduce Continuance Intention of Online Gamers? the Expectancy Disconfirmation Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

When Does Frustration Not Reduce Continuance Intention of Online Gamers? the Expectancy Disconfirmation Perspective

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Online games have become one of the most important activities in cyberspace due to their popularity [China Internet Network Information Center 2014; State of Online Gaming Report 2013] and increasing profitability [Mozur 2013]. Moreover, a single online game vendor can generate revenue of 1.9 billion dollars in a quarter [Osawa 2015]. These figures confirm the value of online games to managers, warranting further research. Online games offer challenges to engage customers and attempt to strengthen their intention to play [ Wang & Wang 2008]. However, if the game proves too difficult for gamers to obtain achievements, they likely feel frustrated during gameplay [e.g., Blumberg et al. 2008; Chumbley & Griffiths 2006].

Frustration has been a recent topic in the literature [e.g., Sun & Spears 2012; Totok & Karamcheti 2010; Vincent et al. 2010] as it reduces positive attitudes (toward search engine effectiveness), purchase intention [Sun & Spears 2012], service usage, and thus revenues [Totok & Karamcheti 2010]. The importance of frustration has also motivated scholars to examine its antecedents, such as slow response time and request rejection [Totok & Karamcheti 2010; Vincent et al. 2010]. However, frustration might not have the same effect on gamers. For example, frustration does not influence computer gamers' willingness to play [Chumbley & Griffiths 2006]. Moreover, games become so much part of the gamers' identity that even frustration does not inhibit their persistence in playing [Neys et al. 2014]. Such findings indicate the uniqueness of gaming contexts and the relevance of further research into the frustration issues in gaming contexts.

To the best of our knowledge, no study has yet examined the mechanism underlying the relationship between frustration and continuance intention in an online gaming context, indicating a research gap. Research filling this gap can provide insights to online game providers, e.g., assisting them to make decisions on how challenging their games should be. Moreover, online game providers should be curious about the answer to the question: when does frustration not reduce continuance intention? Research answering this question helps managers to not only retain users, but also to stabilize their revenues, and thus build competitive advantage.

Therefore, the purpose of this study is to establish when frustration does not reduce continuance intention. Since frustration is related to unmet needs or the discrepancy between the expected product/service performance and the actual product/service performance, we consulted the expectancy disconfirmation theory [Oliver 1981]. This theory posits that when actual product/service performance exceeds expected performance, customers perceive positive disconfirmation while when actual performance falls below expected performance, customers perceive negative disconfirmation [Churchill & Surprenant 1982]. This theory has a core element/construct, expectancy disconfirmation, which we use to develop hypotheses on the relations among frustration, expectancy disconfirmation, and continuance intention.

As previous experiences shape expectation [Gebhard 1948], they should change the way in which users interpret frustration, i.e., the moderating effect of previous experiences. Hence, this study developed hypotheses on the moderator role of gamer experience in the relation between frustration and expectancy disconfirmation.

2. Literature Review and Hypotheses

2.1. Online Games

Online games are computer games played through the Internet. Gamers can interact with the gaming systems and other gamers [Choi & Kim 2004]. Online games have various types, including social games, board games, sports games, and massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) [Entertainment Software Association 2014]. Among them, MMORPGs have attracted numerous gamers and scholars' attention [Kirby et al. …

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