Chasing Realism: Consumption Science & Platform Performance Convergence in the Video Game Industry

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For decades, the video gaming community has passionately debated whether the best gaming experience can be found using a personal computer (PC) or a gaming console (Xbox, PlayStation, etc.) platform. While PCs have had superior performance (e.g., speed, graphics, etc.) for many years, some experts now believe that the gaming hardware industry is becoming isomorphic. That is, with advances in technology, “the playing field has been levelled,” and gamers should get the same experience whether they are using a PC or a console. If this truly is the case, have gamers noticed, and has it affected their perceptions of the different platforms? Using a cross-sectional survey of gamers, we examined if a gamer’s platform (i.e., hardware) expectations directly influenced their engagement, and if this relationship is mediated by perceived isomorphism by the gamer. Moreover, we posited that the relationship between gamer platform performance utility and perceived isomorphism will be moderated by how much importance a gamer places on hardware price. A survey measuring these constructs was sent to gamers resulting in a final sample of 512 respondents. Using PROCESS model 7 for moderated mediation, a direct relationship between performance utility and engagement was significant. In addition, we found that perceived isomorphism also directly influenced engagement. Yet, support for our moderated mediation model put forth was not found. Altogether, we believe that this research will enable gaming platform manufacturers to better position their products, and that our findings will extend the very limited consumer behavior gaming research in academia.

video gaming, consumption, consumption science, consumption values, isomorphism, hardware performance utility, engagement