Virtual item purchase behavior in virtual worlds: An exploratory investigation

Yue Guo, Stuart J. Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Citations (Scopus)


Virtual worlds, such as Second Life, World of Warcraft and Everquest, have demonstrated huge economic potential. In such virtual worlds, virtual items are bought and sold between individuals for real money. However, little empirical research has been conducted into players’ purchase behavior in virtual worlds. To help us gain a better understanding of factors influencing purchase behavior in virtual worlds, we embarked on an exploratory study. Four focus groups were conducted with 24 participants, selected according to demographic and experiential characteristics. Preliminary empirical evidence suggests that factors including effort expectancy, character competency, the quality of the virtual world system, social influence, virtual item resources, personal real resources, performance expectancy, and self-actualization are important for predicting virtual item purchase behavior in virtual worlds. The results showed that virtual item purchase behavior in virtual worlds has considerable variability involving a range of factors at different stages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-96
Number of pages20
JournalElectronic Commerce Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


  • Focus groups
  • Model
  • Qualitative study
  • Transactions
  • Virtual world

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