The relationship between videogame micro-transactions and problem gaming and gambling: a systematic review

Gibson, E. ORCID: 0000-0002-1068-1036, Griffiths, M.D. ORCID: 0000-0001-8880-6524, Calado, F. ORCID: 0000-0003-2906-7279 and Harris, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-9627-4900, 2022. The relationship between videogame micro-transactions and problem gaming and gambling: a systematic review. Computers in Human Behavior, 131: 107219. ISSN 0747-5632

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Background: Micro-transactions are an increasingly popular form of monetisation for videogame companies. The similarities between specific micro-transaction types and forms of gambling have been identified in literature. However, the relationship between all forms of micro-transaction and both problem gaming and gambling is currently unclear.

Purpose: The present review assessed the outcomes of studies investigating the relationship between videogame micro-transactions, problem gaming, and problem gambling.

Method: A systematic review was conducted searching for relevant literature since 2010. Four databases were searched. These were PsycINFO, Web of Science, Scopus, and Pubmed.

Results: A total of 19 cross-sectional studies met the inclusion criteria and were categorised into three groups, (i) loot boxes, problem gaming and gambling, (ii) pay-to-win micro-transactions, problem gaming and gambling, and (iii) multiple micro-transaction types, problem gaming and gambling. Links between loot boxes and problem gambling were identified. The reviewed studies also indicated demographic differences in micro-transaction preference. Frequency of payment for micro-transactions was suggested as a key factor in the relationship between micro-transactions, problem gaming and problem gambling.

Conclusion: Further research is necessary to provide further evidence for and to understand the causality of these relationships. It is recommended that purchasing loot boxes is classified as a form of gambling and that frequency of micro-transaction purchase is regulated in videogames.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Computers in Human Behavior
Creators: Gibson, E., Griffiths, M.D., Calado, F. and Harris, A.
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Date: June 2022
Volume: 131
ISSN: 0747-5632
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 07 Feb 2022 11:09
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2022 11:09

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