Thought Roblox Was For Kids? Think Again

The metaverse is unavoidable; whether you are a consumer with Fomo, a consumer keen to stay on top of trends or a brand aiming to stay relevant in changing times.

The question is how to be ‘present’ in the metaverse or in one of its separate meta worlds. How to even do that? A recent poll in the US found that 68% of all adults think that the metaverse is either not real or not important. Off-set this to the average of 3 billion hours globally spent on playing videogames and this poll might not reflect what is happening on the ground. We may not want the metaverse to be real or important, but the Web 3.0 is alive and well and gaining ground every day.

Some well-known brands have taken a plunge in the metaverse with astounding results, as the virtual reality offers so much more than what can be done physically and suits the creative industries very well. The Roblox and Fortnite gaming platforms are leading the way for metaverse experiences and Roblox, despite its childish and lego-like designs, is proving to be very successful in establishing partnerships between gamers and brands.

Last year, for example, Gucci set up a Garden Pavilion to host its exhibition for the Venice Biennale. But this was not ‘real’. It was a virtual pavilion inserted into the Roblox gaming platform. Visitors to the Pavilion would – upon entering - transform into neutral mannequins without gender or age, as Gucci wanted to express that we all start as a blank canvas. Wondering the various exhibition rooms, each visitor would be ‘stamped’ with a different pattern of Gucci fabric on their mannequin avatar, depending on how they experienced the room (from feeling excited, bored, curious, happy), meaning that individual visitors would emerge from the exhibition all different from each other; each being a unique piece of art.

This experience was open for two weeks only and (lucky) visitors could purchase limited edition, avatar items, co-designed by Gucci and Rook Vanguard, a Roblox designer who shot to fame as a result of this collaboration. The coveted digital ‘Queen Bee Dionysus’ bag was on sale for 475 Robux (equalling about $5), but as this bag was for sale only for one hour on only two days of the exhibition, the price of the bag started rising quickly and the highest sale price achieved was $4,115-. Quite a bit more than a similar Gucci bag would cost in the physical world.

Equally, the company behind Vans, those of once again fame, has entered into a successful partnership within Roblox. Vans has created a massive skatepark on the platform, where skaters can buy its avatar merchandise and can design their own skateboards and bespoke vans. The sale of digital skateboards and sneakers is allegedly highly lucrative and part of the decision why it is likely that Vans’ skatepark – contrary to Gucci’ pavilion – will be a more permanent feature on Roblox.

These brand excursions into the metaverse are more and more difficult to ignore. How as a ‘brand’ do you follow your customers into this space. Do you build a store in the metaverse? Put your offices there? Lease a building, or build one? Being in the metaverse propels any company into a space where you connect directly to your – avatar – consumer and see what they like and want. This is really powerful stuff.

Of course, we will all continue to live happily in the real world, but the ever-increasing number of hours spent virtually is something brick-and-mortar brands (and e-commerce brands) can’t ignore. And for those entering the workforce in the next couple of years, getting acquainted with the metaverse and gaming seems a must.

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