Brands regularly use gaming platforms to run campaigns. For example, toy maker NERF orchestrated brand activation with Jailbreak, and Balenciaga launched a collection for Fortnight. The metaverse often acts as an intermediary between brands and platform developers. However, Roblox increasingly remains out of deals, transforming into a UGC platform. We will tell you why this happens.
From the metaverse to the UGC. How Brand Partnerships Are Turning Roblox into a Creation Economy Platform
Brand activation in the metaverse is typically a result of partnerships between brands and platforms. For example, Balenciaga’s virtual apparel for Fortnite has been recreated using the Unreal Engine by an internal team at Epic Games.
Roblox prefers to use a more comprehensive model for this by dividing the work of creating virtual products among the network of in-game developers.
“We’ve worked with Warner Bros. in the past. to integrate Ready Player One, ”said Alex Balfanz, 22-year-old Roblox developer whose Badimo studio created the hit Jailbreak for Roblox. “Thanks to the user agreement that Roblox took over for the most part, we also have NERF Jailbreak-branded toy weapons in stores.”
Balfanz and Badimo’s second co-founder Keanu (he uses a pseudonym to protect his identity) founded the company six years ago, when Balfanz was 15 years old. Today, their game about cops and robbers attracts 20 million monthly active users.
Badimo’s latest partnership with the brand was to add a NASCAR vehicle to the Jailbreak. This opportunity, obtained with the help of Roblox, implied an active collaboration between NASCAR and Badimo.
“They provided a lot of audio resources to make the cars sound real, and then digital ones so we could model them accurately,” said Keanu.
According to Roblox, in 10 days of NASCAR competition, users have visited Jailbreak 24 million times, which is 30% more than the usual number of concurrent players.
“Overall, we see the promise of platform activations to encourage brands to form authentic and lively connections with their fans that strengthen our community without interfering with the gameplay,” said Kristina, VP of Brand Partnerships. Wootton.
Photo in text: Unsplash
Roblox no longer acts as an intermediary for many of the brand activations within the platform today. Instead, brands started working directly with developers. This change was largely intentional.
“We are committed to empowering our developer community to be fully prepared to lead projects and work directly with our partners,” added Wootton. “We expect that as brands expand in the metaverse with their reach and expertise, they will be able to use Roblox on their own through customizable templates and other tools.”
There is an element of altruism in this strategy, but this approach has obvious benefits for Roblox as well. Every partnership of the brand with the platform benefits it by increasing its potential audience and user base, regardless of whether Roblox itself profits from the collaboration.
For example, in the partnership between NERF and Badimo, all royalties went directly to the developer, without Roblox involvement, but the platform’s name and logo were prominently featured on every toy gun.
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“Roblox makes money from people playing and spending money in games,” Balfantz explained. “So I think they really want developers to have an incentive to create cool games that can have toy guns.”
“Roblox has created a level playing field where anyone can come in, learn the tools and build, build, build,” said Jonathan Raz-Friedman, CEO of Roblox-based Supersocial. “There are many brands now, and some of them go directly to developers. The point is that the wider developer community is suddenly able to monetize their skills by creating in-game items for these brands. “
Currently, Roblox is receiving far more requests from brands than it can handle, Raz-Friedman said, and that number will only grow in the next couple of years. As brand engagement grows, Roblox continues to explore how to best support its partners and developers – and thereby increase its relevance, both as an advertising platform and as an early metaverse.
The influx of interest from brands was the impetus for the development of Roblox. It is now transforming from a platform for the metaverse to a user-generated content site (UGC). Roblox now provides business contacts and advice to help the growing army of developers on the platform turn their hobby into a source of income.
“The NASCAR deal forced us to find a team of lawyers, take out insurance for the business and much more that we have never encountered before,” Balfanz said. “NASCAR was really willing to work with us and waiting for us to get it done – because for two guys who just started developing games for their own pleasure, this is a very important step.”