Virtually Free

Concise Summary

In the case study, Virtually Free, according to Babin & Harris (2015) the evolution of computer games has taken place in the recent decades really fast. Initially when the computer gaming was in its infancy, companies relied highly on their own consoles that were sold to consumers and then they were able to play the games produced by these companies only on these consoles. Nintendo is a prime example the console of which is now extinct. But the games are still available in modified forms on Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox.  Now a days each person can play unlimited games on their mobiles and other devices like Samsung Tablets and Apple’s iPads, some of which could fit a pocket. The companies go a great distance to even patent the shape of these devices (Zadesky & Tan, 2006). Zynga was one of the first one in the field of computer online games. They used to make money off the “freemium” offered on Facebook. The concept of “freemium” revolves around selling virtual products like different virtual things that you might need to progress in the game. Online gaming has been the topic of different researches where its effect on children and adults has been studied. Online games providers use the data collected from these studies to develop business strategies that could get more online users to play their games and hence maximize their profits. I have read this case study and also done relevant literature review to answer the question posed at the end of this case study. I have also tried to cover different topics from the text (Babin & Harris 2015) during answers to these questions.

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 intentional or intentional. Intentional is when you intend to learn specific things. While unintentional learning is done when you don’t specifically to learn something but still develop some skill. Intentional learning is done when instructions are there to assist you while unintentional learning is non instructional (McLaughlin, 1965). Language is a good example that can explain both kind of learning. Learning your mother tongue is unintentional learning. You would not hear anyone saying that they went to a school to learn their mother tongue. You just learn it. Though the motivation is there as you need your mother tongue to communicate about your needs and get them fulfilled. On the other hand you learn a language like French, Japanese, English and German etc. as a subject at a school, college or another institution. You get specific instructions and are taught different techniques to learn the language. This is called intentional learning.

In case of online games, I believe that working memory is highly in action in playing these games. Therefore, most of the online games learning is intentional. Playing these games need a specific amount of attention. There might be no instruction but there is use of the already learned techniques that help in playing these games. When a user goes by different levels in these games, they read different instructions based on which the playing decisions are made. People who play these games may have to refer to a YouTube video to learn different thing about the games that they don’t know. Even if the players are not referring to outside help while playing these games, they do spend a good amount of energy on brainstorming to know exactly what they need to know to be successful with these games.

Another opinion that I have is about little online games that do not require planning and are really simple to play. I think that the learning in this case might be categorized as unintentional in my opinion. These games do not require a huge amount of time and energy and the user can just use intuition in progressing in these games.

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?

Brand schema is a concept that is used by different brands to construct a mental map in the mind of the customers to grade the brand of high value and produce a sense of loyalty to the brand (Kent & Allen, 1994). Via advertisement, playing with their product designs and prices and using the names of famous designers and celebrities, companies might be able to influence the minds of the consumer in making them think that what presented to them is what actually suits their personality and lifestyle and this is what they always “need”. With brand schemas, the brand owners can change a “want” to a “need. For example if I want to have a watch, I might be able to choose from hundreds of brands. The primary function of a watch I to tell me what time it is. But when I watch TV and see different celebrities like Tiger Woods wearing a “Rado Watch” I would be influenced to choose a Rado Watch as I would make up my mind that Rado is the only watch that can tell me the exact and real time and it “suit” my personality. Therefore, if I am unable to afford a real Rado, I would try and buy a replica.

Consumers do take into account the company that is offering the game. In my opinion consumers are more interested in the company that had developed the game that what the actual game would be when played. There is a greater possibility that a game might be of high quality but it might go unnoticed just because it was not produced by a famous gaming company. On the other hand really stupid games might become more famous just because they were produced by famous gaming companies.

In my opinion the question of selecting a “host” like Facebook has diluted over time. Consumers are more interested in the games produced by their favorite gaming companies and they do not care a lot which platforms these games are being played on.

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?

There could be a set of behaviors motivating the purchase of online games in my opinion. Online gamers might find it easy to play games online and connect with other gamers than going to a playground and make friends. In this regard playing online games may result in the lack of social skills that are important to deal with day to day social issues. The other motivation could be to deal with the real life scenarios in a virtual world and experience extreme conditions like wars simulated in these games. This calls to the psychological needs of some people to take risks and feel proud about it. Parents feel happy when they pay for their kid’s happiness so they might opt to pay for online games. Other motivations could be that these parents think that the children are learning something from these games and hence allow their children to play these games and make payments for these games.

Do consumer attitude play a role in online gaming?

Different aspects of consumer’s attitude might be at play in online gaming. Consumers believe system might be in action when playing a game. For example a consumer might think that the war against terrorism is in the best interest of their country and he/she would play a game where terrorists are killed. Consumers might be motivated by their behavior and lifestyles to opt for some games. For example people who love dancing and music might opt to play games related to music and dancing. Games could be a source to live a life that you cannot live in reality. Different games are available to call to different aspects of human attitudes. Creating successful band schemas can help in successfully calling to these attitudes.



Babin, B. & Harris, E. (2015). CB7. Mason, Ohio: South-Western.