Monetized video games have received academic and regulatory scrutiny following concerns that these products may foster addiction-like behaviors, including compulsive spending. Previous studies have reported that individuals with markedly higher in-game financial expenditure are more likely to endorse symptoms of addictive behavior (i.e., gaming or gambling disorder). The present study recruited 428 adult Fortnite players from online forums and investigated gaming motivations and behaviors, as well as online social network influences, in relation to microtransaction spending and gaming disorder (GD) symptoms. The results showed that microtransaction spending was predicted by social influences (i.e., the frequency of spending by the participants’ closest friend who spends money on Fortnite), greater accessibility to Fortnite across multiple devices, and having a higher in-game level. Spenders reported stronger motivation to acquire in-game rewards and were more likely to perceive game items as representing good value for money. Higher spenders were older and reported using more payment methods, having a close friend who pays for Fortnite more often, and spent more hours playing Fortnite. Problematic gaming was associated with trait impulsivity, weekly time spent playing the game, and the perception that reducing time spent playing would diminish one's sense of self-worth. Fortnite loot box spending was not associated with GD symptoms. These data suggest that different implementations of in-game monetization schemes may have different risk potential for consumers across games.
- Gaming disorder
- Loot box