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Roblox’s Shift from the Metaverse

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Roblox, the renowned online gaming platform, is undergoing a transformative shift as it seeks to forge lasting alliances with prominent sports brands, shedding its association with the term ‘metaverse.’ With a track record of successful collaborations with the likes of Fifa, McLaren, and Nascar, Roblox played a pivotal role in shaping brand expectations for metaverse activations. However, the platform is now focusing on cultivating long-term partnerships instead of one-off ventures.

Tian Pei, Roblox’s head of sport, envisions a future where brands perceive Roblox as a platform necessitating a permanent presence, akin to Instagram. While time-sensitive activations still hold significance, Pei emphasizes the need for brands to establish a continuous presence on Roblox. This strategic shift is exemplified by the ongoing WimbleWorld experience, which has returned this year in preparation for the upcoming tennis tournament after a successful debut in the previous year.

To achieve this, Roblox is actively engaging in conferences like SEG3, aiming to educate brands about the benefits of a sustained presence on the platform. As part of this process, the platform seeks to downplay the ‘metaverse’ label, with its associated expectations, and instead prioritize Roblox as an independent platform. Pei affirms, “We’re not talking about the metaverse; we’re talking about UGC” (User-Generated Content).

Furthermore, Roblox emphasizes the diverse options available to brands, particularly sports brands, when it comes to marketing themselves on the platform. Notably, the audience on Roblox has matured alongside the platform, with 38% of users aged 17 and older in 2022. Consequently, the introduction of experiences and worlds exclusive to users above 17 aims to cater to this demographic shift.

Brands leveraging Roblox have multiple avenues for crafting experiences on the platform. While many ‘metaverse’ platforms enable the use of creative tools for user-generated content (UGC), Roblox is actively promoting its new partner program, designed to attract more advertisers. This program facilitates self-serve marketing experiences, enabling brands from various sectors to curate their own immersive campaigns. Early partners include industry pioneers like Dentsu, Dubit, and Vayner3, who are shaping marketing standards within immersive spaces.

Alternatively, brands can collaborate directly with the Roblox team to develop higher-end experiences that offer enhanced fidelity and detailed models. The platform has revamped its Materials tools to provide an extensive range of textures and models tailor-made for branded experiences.

Pei emphasizes that brands are discovering diverse means to engage and convert audiences on the platform, be it through revenue generation or fostering audience engagement. Importantly, Roblox’s audience extends beyond sports fans, presenting a unique opportunity for teams, leagues, and sporting organizations to connect with new audiences.

Roblox’s foremost objective is to establish a tangible link between its digital experiences and real-world benefits. Exploring the convergence of digital and physical realms is a priority on Roblox’s agenda, particularly concerning sports brands. While numerous third-party entities can demonstrate the correlation between online activities and real-world consumer decisions, Roblox is keen on deepening its own capabilities in this area.

While Roblox does not integrate blockchain technology and cannot offer tokens or NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), it acknowledges the inevitability of AI in the realm of technology and Web3. Consequently, the platform considers AI as a significant focus for investment.

Marketing on platforms like Roblox does present challenges. The onus lies on marketing teams to substantiate claims about audience sizes and demonstrate that these platforms offer favorable environments for brand promotion. Roblox’s commitment to enhancing tools for advertisers underscores its serious intent to create a marketing-friendly ecosystem.

As Roblox strives to shed its ‘metaverse’ label and establish enduring partnerships with sports brands, the platform’s emphasis on continuous presence, diverse marketing options, and bridging digital experiences with real-world benefits showcases its commitment to driving innovation within the gaming and advertising industries.