Case Study: Virtually Free

Summary

The case study has provide in depth information about the evolution of games from being played on a console that was sold by companies like Nintendo to the present world where games are played virtually online on computers and handheld devices like mobile phones and tablets. Zynga has been the pioneer of online gaming where it first started by offering free games and relied on advertisement to make financial gains to offering “freemium” which are virtual products that are offered at different stages in many games developed by Zynga and played by Facebook users (Babin & Harris, 2015, p. 153).  . The case study also offers information about the effects of online gaming on adults and children and different business models utilized by online game providers. In this paper, I would provide a detailed overview of the different topics that are discussed. I would provide answers to the questions posed at the end of the case study in an essay form so that we can look at different topics discussed in the case study related to consumer behavior in more detail.

  1. Consumers, whether adults or children, have to learn how to play online games like Tiny Zoo or Castleville. In this part of the book, learning is described as being either intentional or unintentional. Explain your opinion on whether these games are learned more by intentional or unintentional learning mechanisms.

Learning can be done both intentionally and unintentionally. Intentional learning is when you want to learn something knowing that you are learning it. for example when you hire a driving instructor, learning driving would be intentional as you will try to learn the theory and then remember the main point and apply these points when you are actually driving the car. Unintentional learning is when you are learning but you don’t plan to learn. That is you are learning but you might not know it. Take the example of learning to drive again. This time you are a confident driver. You take your son with you when you drive around. Your son is 3 years old and when he comes home, he sits in his toy car and has suddenly learned how to steer the car. Where did he learn that? This is observational learning that has occurred unintentionally. Unintentional learning happens all around in homes, offices or anywhere where there are humans performing some actions (Werquin, 2016).

Coming to the topic of learning how to play online games, I would say that they are more intentional than unintentional. The people who play chose to play online games and they have to go through a process of trial and error to actually learn these game. We might argue that some part of the games are learned unintentionally which is true but then we have to look at the whole scenario. The online game is made up of many stages that require the working memory functioning. The gamer has to actively plan and make decisions based on the situation that he/she faces during the game. The actual point that I want to make is the gamer is intentionally learning the game when he/she is utilizing different tactics.

  1. Brand loyalty is an important marketing concept. Define the concept of schema. How important is the brand schema in consumer decisions to play these games? Do you think consumers think of the company (Zynga), the game (Cityville), or the host (Facebook) when playing the games?

Loyal customers of a brand perceive the products of a brand to be o high quality compared to others (Delgado& Luis Munuera, 2001). They put the highest trust in their brand and buy whatever the brand presents to them at whatever price. The strategy of the brand schema is defined as (Kent & Allen, 1994):

A brand’s schema is the hierarchical network of associations to the brand

This implies that the marketing strategies of a brand devise a full strategy to get the customers involved and make them believe in the brand quality by offering information that would catch the attention of consumers. In playing online games, I believe that brand schemas are really important. Consumers have made up a special place in their mind for online games by specific brand like Zynga.

In my opinion, when a consumer is opting for a game, the first thing that comes to his/her mind is what company developed the game or which brand does it belong to. Therefore, I think that Zynga is what would come to the mind of a consumer when making a choice to play a game. But for this, it is necessary that the consumer is loyal to Zynga brand. If he, she does not know Zynga, the choice would then be made according to the quality of the game after it has been tried for in the trial version or there are a high number of positive reviews available.

  1. All consumer behavior is motivated by something. What motivations underline gaming and purchasing of online games? In the case of parents paying for virtual goods used by their kids, what values is involved in the consumption?

I think that it is a really open question to ask for what is the motivation to purchase online games. There could be a number of reasons to opt for an online game. First is the interest that a person has developed towards technology over a certain period of time. Games are a form of technology. When these type of consumers hear about an online game, they are unintentionally tempted to have a go at it and might buy the game. Online games are indoor and there is not a lot of physical effort required to play them. For example a person might just opt to set in front of the computer and play baseball instead of physically going to a playground and playing baseball. There are multiple reasons that would stop you from physical activities and stuck you to a computer. First is laziness. This is a really dangerous issue as the lack of physical activities due to laziness can cause many physical and psychological problems. Second reason is the non-availability of play grounds. Third is the security risks involved with going out to a playground. Instead the parents might force their children to stay at home and play video games and enjoy.

Parents do pay for virtual products like online games. There could be a variety of reasons. First reason is what I already explained i.e. security risks associated with going out to playgrounds. Second reason may be the lack of interest by parents in the life of their children. Some parents might just want to avoid their children and purchase them online games so that they do not disturb them. This is one of the negative behavior that is exercised by parent in the modern world.  Third reason is that parents might simply love their children and might be technology conscious. They might consider playing game a form of entertainment that helps their children get used to different technologies and get synchronized with the modern technologically advanced world.

  1. Do consumer attitude play a role in online gaming?

There are different aspects of consumer’s attitude that play an important role in getting people to play online games. Brand loyalty is one of the factors of the consumer attitude. So if a person is not that much into online games but tries Angry Bird, he/she might love it and start to become a loyal consumer of it. A person’s social attitude could also be a factor playing a role in opting for online games. For example if a person is not that much socially connected to the people around him/her, he/she might opt to get into the online world and start playing online games.

Conclusion

Online games are here to stay. Consumers have a choice to get addicted to these online games or manage their online behavior and have online fun for some of their free time. Online games industry is going to grow rapidly. They would be using all the techniques suggested by the researcher in consumer’s behavior that would benefit the sale of their games to maximize their profits.

References

Babin, B. & Harris, E. CB7, 7th Edition.

Delgado-Ballester, E., & Luis Munuera-Alemán, J. (2001). Brand trust in the context of    consumer loyalty. European Journal of marketing, 35(11/12), 1238-1258.

Kent, R. J., & Allen, C. T. (1994). Competitive interference effects in consumer memory for         advertising: the role of brand familiarity. The Journal of Marketing, 97-105.

Werquin, P. (2016). International Perspectives on the Definition of Informal Learning.      Handbuch Informelles Lernen, 39-64.