Online Social Games: The Effect of Social Comparison Elements on Continuance Behaviour

Jose Esteves, Konstantina Valogianni, Anita Greenhill

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Online social games, played within social networks or games requiring social interaction with peers, are revolutionizing the nature of video-games due to their social aspect and the ability of users to compare their performance with their friends or people in their network. Social comparison features, such as leaderboards, individual scores, achievement badges and level maps, are commonly used in online games to enforce the social interaction of players. However, one of the biggest challenges that the social game industry is currently facing is the ability to increase user enjoyment, and keep its players engaged in the games. To probe more deeply into whether and how players’ continuance intention is influenced by social comparison processes, we combine two theoretical lenses: social comparison theory and self-efficacy theory. We conducted real-world data collection to measure the impact of social comparisons in player perceived enjoyment, online social gaming self-efficacy and game continuance. The results indicate that upward identification and downward contrast are the most influential comparison elements in game continuance. The results of these two comparisons have significant implications for both the theoretical application of social comparison in online settings and for the practical implications of future game design.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103452
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages15
JournalInformation and Management
Issue number4
Early online date27 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • Hedonic environments
  • IS continuance
  • Online social games
  • Perceived enjoyment
  • Self-efficacy theory
  • Social comparison theory


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