Is Video Gaming Addictive?: An Empirical Analysis

50 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2024

See all articles by Bruno Castelo-Branco

Bruno Castelo-Branco

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Puneet Manchanda

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Date Written: June 1, 2023

Abstract

Video games have evolved from a niche pastime for tech enthusiasts to a form of digital entertainment that is enjoyed by billions of people around the world. This huge popularity has sparked concerns over the addictive potential of video games, especially considering its appeal to the younger population. We leverage data from a leading digital distribution platform for video games to study addiction. Following the economic literature, we define addiction as the presence of a positive intertemporal dependence in players’ video game consumption caused by the increase of marginal utility. We apply a hierarchical Bayes approach to test for the presence of this positive state dependence at the individual level and provide an estimate for the share of addicts on the platform. Our results suggest that between 14.6% and 18.3% of the users on this platform can be considered addicted according to this criterion. Despite claims that some video games are purposefully designed to be addictive, we find that game characteristics are not strong predictors of addiction status. Lastly, we explore whether addiction is associated with other behavior on the platform and find that, on average, addicts own more games, have more friends on the platform, play longer sessions, and are more likely to purchase new games. Our results are likely to be relevant to policymakers, consumers, and game developers seeking a better understanding of gaming addiction.

Keywords: Video Games, Digital Markets, Addiction, State Dependence

Suggested Citation

Castelo-Branco, Bruno and Manchanda, Puneet, Is Video Gaming Addictive?: An Empirical Analysis (June 1, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4714079 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4714079

Bruno Castelo-Branco (Contact Author)

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

Puneet Manchanda

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States
734-936-2445 (Phone)
734-936-8716 (Fax)

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