Multiplex social influence in a freemium context: Evidence from online social games

Chenhui Guo, Xi Chen, Paulo Goes, Cheng Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


An increasingly popular trend in digital businesses is the adoption of the freemium model, in which premium features are provided along with free features. Because this model separates use (spending time) from purchase decisions (spending money) and people treat spending time and spending money differently, it derives two distinct types of social influence: social influence from peer spending time and peer spending money. This multiplex social influence, however, has not received sufficient attention. We investigated a popular online social game and studied how multiplex social influence jointly affects players' spending time and spending money in a digital freemium environment. We uncovered spending time has a more substantial effect on players' spending money than does spending money. The dependence between two different types of social influence provides evidence of multiplex social influence and its asymmetricity. We further tested and discovered that personal characteristics and network measures moderates multiplex social influence. Because the freemium model proliferates in many online environments, the current study enlightens the value of free users' social influence in the operations of businesses with freemium models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113711
JournalDecision Support Systems
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Freemium model
  • Online social game
  • Premium features
  • Social influence
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Information Systems and Management


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