New game technologies are changing the way people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life. However, designing good games is challenging and expensive. While technologies have been improving swiftly, game design guidelines have evolved slowly. This article proposes a theoretical approach to study the key factors leading to successful online games. We first developed a theoretical model, Playability for Acceptance and Adoption Model (PAAM) for conciseness, linking the antecedents into the key factors using information acquired from an extended literature review. We then undertook a survey of 201 online gamers to investigate key factors affecting players' acceptance of online games. Through structural equation modeling, our findings showed that the “perceived benefits” construct is dependent on whether online games met gamers' goals for entertainment or leisure activities, in-game experiences, and out-game needs, while the “perceived ease of use” construct is determined by game design and facilitating conditions. We believe our theoretical model and results are useful to designers and developers of software companies when creating online games that will satisfy gamers' goals, in-game experiences, and out-game needs for playability.
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