Every so often a new game will appear on the horizon that takes the world by storm, with the potential to completely recombobulate the way we play and perceive video games. In 2021, that game goes by the name, Roblox, and it’s available on Xbox, PC, Mac and even mobile. If you haven’t heard about it yet, chances are your nieces, nephews and younger siblings have, and they’re loving it! For good reason too.

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at what makes this gaming phenomenon tick, as well as the potential opportunities it presents for brands and marketers alike.

What even is Roblox?
Calling Roblox a video game doesn’t really do justice to the grandeur of its design. In reality, it’s much more than a game, it’s an entire gaming platform, with elements of Roblox making it more akin to the likes of Steam and the Google Play Store than an actual game.

There are millions of games available to play on Roblox, the majority of which are created by the users themselves. These games use the Roblox creation tools to enable players to create their own maps, tailor-make their own rules and customize their unique playing experience at a remarkably granular level. Essentially, with Roblox anyone can become a videogame developer, with new and exciting games emerging every day within the lego-like world of Roblox. What’s more, it’s entirely free to play, with the exception of an in-game currency that can be purchased to support creators.

For your average user, engaging with Roblox is a relatively effortless endeavour. You simply log on to their proprietary platform, choose the game that catches your eye and embark on your next adventure. The nature of choosing a game feels very akin to the Newsfeed, except instead of scrolling through content, you are able to scroll through a list of community-created games, at which point you simply need to click on the one that catches your eye to embark on your next adventure.

The potential of the game is as large as its creator's imagination. When I say there’s something for everyone, I do mean everyone. Into pets? You’re not alone! The most popular game on the platform today, ‘Adopt Me!’ allows you to adopt and care for your own virtual pet. Prefer a murder mystery mayhaps? Embark on Murder Mystery 2. Where there’s a will, there’s a new way to play, and it’s born entirely from the creativity of the community.

The rise of Roblox
Contrary to popular belief, Roblox isn’t as fresh to the scene as people think. In fact, it was originally created back in 2004, it was simply overshadowed by the more popular and simpler to play, Minecraft. Since its fruition, Roblox has come a long way, bragging 32.6 million daily active users in 2020, which, when compared to Fortnite’s 25 million active daily users, should give us all a clear indication of just how popular this game has become. With over 30.6 billion hours of engaged user activity in the game throughout 2020, the real question is, why? 

It goes without saying that Roblox is a creative catalyst for custom gaming experiences, but really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What makes this game so immersive is not just the games you play, but the overwhelming sense of community you feel as soon as you enter. For my fellow boomers reading this blog, playing it reminded me of the golden era of Club Penguin and Neopets; every game is filled with personal interactions, making it feel less like a game and more like a step in the right direction as we move towards the metaverse. 

How does Roblox play out in our world? 
The magic of Roblox lies in the simple fact that we, as brands and marketers, no longer need to inject ourselves into already established gaming landscapes. With Roblox, we create the game and we decide the rules. We are able to create completely bespoke brand experiences and open them up to the world, with no ambition being too big for the platform. 

“Whether it’s for a sports franchise, a fashion brand, a movie studio or musical artist, there are endless possibilities for building authentic and immersive experiences that bring your brand to life,” Tami Bhaumik, Roblox’s vice president of marketing.

A prime example of this was evident during the launch of Lil Nas X’s winter hit, Holiday. During a time when few could go to live performances, his team decided to bring the concert to the people, with the first-ever performance of the song being played straight from the stage of Roblox. This virtual concert attracted over 30 million visits, accompanied by exclusive in-game bundles featuring custom avatar items and emotes.

Another example of brands utilizing Roblox in the right way was Nike celebrating Air Max Day. They created fashion bundles in recognition of all the players who push their limits, ‘spending hours shaving seconds off their speed runs’. This collaboration was a love letter of sorts to the committed players of Roblox, enabling them to represent their drive in-game through Nike. 

Even movie developers are trying to get in on the action, with the film ‘Scoob!’ partnering with the Roblox game “Adopt Me!” to offer a virtual Scooby-Doo in the game. What makes this case particularly worth noting is that this partnership wasn’t done through the developers of Roblox, but rather the creator of a specific, and highly popular, game within Roblox, allowing users to adopt everyone's favourite crime-solving pupper, Scoob.

When we talk about the sky being the limit, Roblox is the platform that proves it to be true. That being said, it is important to consider that Roblox is predominantly dominated by young users, with 67% of users being under the age of 16, and only 14% of Roblox users being over the age of 25. However, I’m a firm believer that this old game still has some new tricks up its sleeve, with the potential to satisfy the needs of an older demographic as more games grow in popularity. It’s also worth noting that it takes safety seriously - vital for a platform used by young audiences.

Where Roblox will take us next is yet to be seen, but one thing’s for certain, there’s more than enough space for socially savvy brands to step in and make their big blocky gaming debut.

Facts fit for decks

Key things to note:

  • Roblox is paving the way for a new era of branded gaming 
  • Anyone is able to create and customize playable maps that can be opened to the public 
  • Roblox is poised in a similar way to the Newsfeed, allowing users to effortlessly discover games
  • Purchases can be made using Roblox’s in-game currency, Robux 
  • Roblox users spent a collective $1.7 billion in-game, in 2020.
  • Low barrier to entry with few gatekeepers; you don’t need a partnership with the game’s developer to create bespoke brand experiences and maps. 
  • It’s possible to partner with the creators of existing games to utilize spaces in already popular maps for promotions.

-----

This article was written by our Head of Copy in Dubai, Peter Mazloumian.