Play on Demand: Why Do Players Play the Mobile Games They Do

Play on Demand: Why Do Players Play the Mobile Games They Do

Brian McCauley (RMIT University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam), Giovanni Merola (Xi'an Jioatong Liverpool University, China) and Sarah Gumbley (RMIT University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/IJEBR.2017100103
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Due to the penetration of smartphones and associated mobile devices, mobile gaming has become a ubiquitous industry worldwide. Players now have access to games at all times. Extending previous research and the Uses and Gratifications approach this paper presents an alternative conceptual model that can offer explanations towards understanding why players play the mobile game they play most frequently.
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The rapid growth of mobile communication in recent years has led to the creation of a wide-ranging variety of mobile services (Gao, Krogstie, Chen & Zhou, 2014) with the most successful service to date being mobile gaming. Global revenues reflect this popularity and the industry worth is estimated at $24.4 billion US in 2014. Furthermore, growth projections indicate this will reach $ 44.2 billion by 2018 (Statistica, 2016).

The success of mobile gaming can be attributed to its defining characteristics of ‘accessibility’, due to the device being ever-present on a person (Hjorth & Richardson, 2009, Kleijnen et al., 2004, Maddell & Muncer, 2007, Soh & Tan, 2008), ‘entertainment’ value, as it can be used to fill spare time or idle moments (Li & Counts, 2007, James, 2001, Hjorth & Richardson, 2009), the way it enables social-connectedness (Hjorth, 2011, Casey, Kirman & Rowland, 2007) and the option for potentially shorter yet more frequent play episodes (Engl & Nache, 2012, Terlutter & Capella, 2013). Furthermore, when it comes to gaming, mobile devices allow users to play without the constraints of time or place (Erturkoglu, Zhang & Mao, 2015).

As noted by Park and Kim (2013), the mobile game industry continues to grow due to the rapid, global diffusion of mobile devices. Such growth holds a number of possibilities for new business models. Despite the increasing importance and popularity of mobile games, little research actually explains the key success factors within the industry (Park & Kim, 2013) while mobile game studies to-date have largely focused on the pre-adoption phase while ignoring post-adoption behaviors (Merikivi, Tuunainen & Duyen, 2016).

Erturkoglu, Zhang and Mao (2015) expanded the Uses and Gratifications paradigm to investigate user intention for playing mobile social games. Social mobile games are defined as casual games played on mobile devices specifically through social networks (Wei & Lu, 2014) and usually directly or indirectly involve other players. Games are played to satisfy various motivations (Tseng & Teng, 2015) and social mobile games can be seen as satisfying motivations specific to the genre. This study proposes examining mobile gaming regardless of game type or genre to focus on the mobile game most-played. The only research to-date investigating continued mobile game play (Merikivi et al., 2016) identified ‘enjoyment’ as the key factor in determining continued mobile play with ‘enjoyment’ being driven by ease-of-use, novelty, design aesthetic, and challenge. The current study seeks to provide an alternative conceptualization of what drives continued mobile play through extending the conceptual model of Erturkoglu et al. (2015) to answer the following research question:

What factors can be identified that drive enjoyment, usage and positive word of mouth regarding the mobile games played most frequently?

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