Roblox: two big changes mean brands must now rethink strategy

Roblox: two big changes mean brands must now rethink strategy

At Roblox’s developer conference, online dating and big changes to the marketplace will change the way brands strategise their metaverse activations.

There were some truly monumental changes announced at this month’s annual Roblox developer conference, and it marks a turning point in both the platform’s future, and the way brands approach their metaverse strategy.

There were two themes that dominated the headlines: social experiences and the democratisation of the virtual marketplace.

Online dating… on Roblox?

An announcement that drew a few gasps was Roblox’s emphatic and ambitious aspiration to enter the online dating market. Though Roblox and Online Dating may seem like worlds apart, it acknowledges that more of our lives are being played out in virtual worlds, and consequently; friendships form, relationships form.

The argument is: this happens anyway, so creating a safe space to facilitate these connections seems obvious from the outside.

This creates a unique opportunity for brands… Imagine completing an I’m A Celebrity… bushtucker trial as a way to break the ice with a potential match, or even fly through the universe in a Tardis to chat all things science fiction. Making these connections more authentic is a big part of Roblox’s mission — that’s why they’re introducing facial tracking, phone calling and even real names.

They want our avatars to become more like us, rather than the reverse — and that can only be a good thing. These changes embody Roblox’s mission to become a social platform, stepping heavily into the metaverse space even further. It means that brands and formats that have been dominant in the space are able to be challenged by those who may have previously seen the barrier to entry as too high.

The opportunities surrounding social experiences are going to be accelerated by the continued evolution of virtual reality and augmented reality. There is a future not so far off where entering the virtual world is as effortless as putting on a pair of glasses, or even contact lenses. Brands who enter this space at the right time (early) will be the true innovators of tomorrow.

Succeeding in a free market

The other notable big headline this year was the democratization of the avatar marketplace, an announcement that some in the developer community classed as controversial. Many brands on the platform rely on the relative exclusivity of virtual items as a key part of their strategy both in sales and driving game traffic.

Now that the marketplace is due to become more saturated, and free items more scarce — brands must now rethink their approach altogether.

No longer is it enough to just show up on Roblox, create an experience and throw out free merch to players in order to achieve success. It is now more important than ever to put a heavy focus on long-term strategy and construct gameplay that is both laser-focused and sticky. Brands want to see their investment in virtual worlds and items pay off; impressions, retention, and a return on their investment.

The path to success is not as murky and uncertain as it may seem, and this challenge to the traditional formula for success is an exciting opportunity for brands interested in coming to the platform to invest and adapt.

So don’t get left behind, this is the place to be right now to keep your brand relevant in the age of evolving media consumption.

Callum Trevitt is metaverse creative at Metavision, ITV’s specialist metaverse agency and studio.

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