Purpose: In-game advertising continues to increase in importance for both industry and academia. However, game difficulty – an important, real-world factor – has received little attention as a specific game-related factor that might impact the effectiveness of in-game advertisements. This study aims to investigate the influence of game difficulty on players’ affective response and subsequent memory of in-game ads, which were presented as either gain- or loss-framed messages. Design/methodology/approach: Three experiments were conducted. Study 1 and Study 3 implemented a 2 (difficulty: easy/difficult) × 2 (ad framing: gain/loss) design. Study 2 implemented a 2 (background music: calm/stressful) × 2 (ad framing: gain/loss) design. All experiments took place in a research laboratory in which participants consented to the study, completed a pre-test questionnaire, played a video game, completed a post-test questionnaire and were debriefed. Findings: More difficult game play led to greater negative affective response. A different game-based attribute – background music – did not influence affective response. A significant interaction in Study 1 revealed that brand recognition increased as players in a more negative affective state were exposed to the loss-framed message. The results were explained to occur via the congruency effects that game difficulty exerts on players’ affective and cognitive states. Originality/value: The studies are the first to incorporate both videogame difficulty and ad framing into one study, which two real-world factors that can influence advertising’s effectiveness. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Business and International Management