Modelling the antecedents of mobile gaming brand loyalty amongst Generation Y students
The rapid dissemination of smartphones amongst consumers over the past decade has led to a plethora of mobile services being available. Of all mobile services available, mobile application games (hereafter referred to as mobile games) have experienced the most success. Mobile gaming has become a major success in the South African market, with mobile gaming surpassing console video gaming in terms of revenue generated in 2016. A mobile game, as a type of video game, is described as an interactive entertainment that can be played on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. The object of a video game, particularly a mobile game, is to create a pleasurable experience for a player, which is attained by accomplishing certain objectives set out in the game. Mobile games have become ubiquitous amongst smartphone users due to their portability, as well as them being interactive, challenging and fun to play. Internationally, mobile games have become a lucrative business, with consumer expenditure exceeding $35 billion. Players who enjoy the game will either purchase the full-version, make repeated in-game purchases (in-app purchases) to speed up their gameplay progress or download other mobile games from the same company. This type of consumer behaviour is typically linked to brand loyalty, and the success of these mobile gaming brands can be attributed to their ability to attract and retain brand loyal consumers. The primary objective of this study was to determine the antecedents of mobile gaming brand loyalty amongst Generation Y students within the South African context. The empirical objectives included determining Generation Y students’ psychological commitment and behavioural loyalty toward their favourite mobile game, together with their level of satisfaction, perceptions of challenge, level of flow experienced and level of identification with their favourite mobile game. The second empirical objective determined if mobile gaming brand loyalty is a six-factor model comprising mobile gaming satisfaction, challenge, game identification, flow, psychological commitment and behavioural loyalty. The third empirical objective tested a proposed model on the influence of mobile gaming satisfaction, challenge, game identification and flow on Generation Y students’ psychological commitment and behavioural loyalty towards their favourite mobile game. The final empirical objective sought to determine if there are any gender differences in terms of Generation Y students’ mobile gaming satisfaction, challenge, game identification, flow, psychological commitment and behavioural loyalty towards their favourite mobile game. The sampling frame for this study comprised 26 public registered South African universities. From this initial sampling frame, non-probability judgement sampling was applied to select a campus from a traditional university, one from a university of technology and one from a comprehensive university. A non-probability convenience sample of 600 students was taken across these three campuses during 2017. The statistical techniques used to analyse the data collected from the 464 completed questionnaires returned included factor analysis, descriptive statistics, structural equation modelling and an independent samples t-test. The findings in this study indicate that South African Generation Y students experience satisfaction when playing their favourite mobile game, respond positively to challenges posed and identify with their favourite game in terms of in-game characters, social communities and the virtual worlds they present. Furthermore, Generation Y students respond strongest to games that evoke a state of flow. Moreover, they are brand loyal towards their favourite mobile game in terms of both psychological commitment and behavioural loyalty. The study also determined that mobile gaming brand loyalty amongst Generation Y students in South Africa is a six-factor model. The empirically-tested model indicates that satisfaction, challenge and game identification have a significant direct positive influence on Generation Y students’ flow, which, in turn, is a significant positive predictor of psychological commitment. In turn, Generation Y students’ psychological commitment towards their favourite mobile game was found to be a significant positive predictor of their behavioural loyalty towards that game. Game identification, in addition to having an indirect influence on psychological commitment via its direct influence on flow, also had a direct influence on psychological commitment. In terms of gender difference, female Generation Y students were found to experience a statistically significant higher level of satisfaction, challenge and sense of flow with their favourite mobile game than their male counterparts. This study contributes towards to the literature concerning brand loyalty toward mobile gaming in both the South African and global context. This study determined which antecedents contribute to making Generation Y students brand loyal when playing mobile games. In addition, the study demonstrates the underlying relationships between mobile gaming satisfaction, challenge, game identification, flow, psychological commitment and behavioural loyalty amongst Generation Y students.