PurposeMassively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) create quasi-real social systems in which players can interact with one another, and quasi-real economic systems where players can consume and trade in-game items with virtual currency. The in-game currency price, an important indicator of a virtual economy, is highly contingent on players’ behavioral interaction in MMORPGs. The purpose of this paper is to adopt a network perspective to examine how topological characteristics of social networks in an MMORPG, namely, network externalities, density, and closure, would exert impacts on the in-game currency price.Design/methodology/approachPlayers’ behavioral data were collected from a popular MMORPG in China on a weekly basis for 52 weeks. With a time series analytical approach, the empirical model for the price function of in-game currency was estimated with vector autoregression.FindingsThe results show that the number of core avatars and network density are positively associated with in-game currency price, while network closure has a negative effect on in-game currency price. However, in-game currency price is found to have no significant relationship with the trade volume of the currency.Originality/valueThis study fills in an important research gap by investigating factors influencing the in-game currency price of MMORPGs from a network perspective, which contributes to the existing literature of network effects and advances our understanding about how players’ interaction will influence the dynamics of a virtual economy. The findings could offer useful insights for online game companies to better understand their players’ social interaction and consumption behavior.
Internet Research – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 7, 2017