Overcoming the monetization challenge in freemium online games

Ahmad Beltagui, Thomas Schmidt, Marina Candi, Deborah Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Online games based on a freemium business model face the monetization challenge. The purpose of this paper is to examine how players’ achievement orientation, social orientation and sense of community contribute to willingness to pay (WtP). Design/methodology/approach: A multi-method study of an online game community is used. Interviews and participant observation are used to develop an understanding of social and achievement orientations followed by the development of hypotheses that are tested using survey data. Findings: The findings indicate that a sense of community is positively related to WtP, whereas satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the service provider is not. The authors examine the moderating role of players’ achievement orientation and social orientation and find that while a stronger connection to the community may encourage achievement-oriented players to pay, the opposite is indicated for socially oriented players. Practical implications: Decision makers need to understand that not all players are potential payers; while socially oriented users can help to maintain and grow the community, achievement-oriented players are more likely to pay for the value they extract from the community. Originality/value: While communities are held together by people with common interests, which intuitively suggests that WtP increases with the strength of connection to the community, the authors find this only applies in the case of players with an achievement orientation. For those with a social orientation, WtP may actually decrease as their connection to the community increases. These perhaps counter-intuitive findings constitute a novel contribution of value for both theory and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1339-1356
Number of pages18
JournalIndustrial Management and Data Systems
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited


  • Achievement orientation
  • Mixed methods
  • Monetization
  • Online games
  • Social orientation


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