The balance patch is an important but not well studied area to maintain game fairness and improve player entertainment. In this paper, we examine the effect of balance patch on player's character preference and further explore the moderating effect of psychological distance and character selection pattern.
In study 1, a web crawler was used to get server-side data of 40, 974 multi-player online battle arena (MOBA) players through official application programming interfaces (APIs). A paired-T test and a stepwise regression were performed to verify the hypothesis. In study 2, a 2-patch type (buff vs nerf) × 2 psychological distance (near vs distant) × 2 character selection pattern (stable vs variable) between-subjects design was adopted to confirm the empirical conclusions through questionnaire survey design and further explored the mediating effect of patch adjustment perception.
The analyzed results showed that the buff patch led to an increase in players' character preference, while the nerf patch led to a decrease in players' character preference. Moreover, the main effect was mediated by patch adjustment perception. Furthermore, psychological distance and character selection pattern both moderated the relationship between balance patch and character preference changes. The character preference of the near psychological distance increased more significantly elicited by buff patches and decreased more significantly in an adverse situation. Similarly, players with variable selection pattern of characters were more sensitive to the stimuli, and the character preference of the variable group changed more significantly than that of the stable group caused by balance patch release.
This paper studies the influence of a patch on the balance of character strength on player preference, which expands the research on game balance and fairness. The present results contribute to the theoretical research on consumer behavior of psychological distance and character selection pattern elicited by balance patches. Meanwhile, the results indicate that psychological distance theory can apply to the study of the relationship between players and virtual characters.
This work was supported by a grant from National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71372194), National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71371034).
Wang, Q., Yang, Y., Li, Z., Liu, N. and Zhang, X. (2020), "Research on the influence of balance patch on players' character preference", Internet Research, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/INTR-04-2019-0148Download as .RIS
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