Why Limited-Time Brand Activations Are The Rule In Roblox – For Now
Brands have flocked to Roblox over the past year, working with both the Metaverse platform and its community of creators to launch custom brand spaces. So far, the Roblox brand activations that have garnered the most press are persistent, always-on experiences such as Vans World and Gucci Town. But while this type of activation is gradually gaining momentum, Roblox activations based on limited-time events are currently much more popular among users and brands.
For brands looking to bolster their metaverse credentials, always-on spaces are perhaps the best expression of a true metaverse – a persistent, immersive space in which users can make changes to the environment around them and experiment. these changes on future visits. But persistent Roblox worlds are also a much heavier lift for brands, requiring them to work with Roblox creators on an ongoing basis and dedicate internal resources to constantly refreshing the space with updated content.
“We aim to update every two weeks,” said Matthew Warneford, whose company Dubit has designed persistent Roblox worlds for brands such as Viacom. “Now some of those updates may be smaller content updates – it could be new clothes, weapon upgrades, new levels for existing games. And then we also try to get new engines, new abilities, or feature updates, usually every two months.
According to Warneford, a brand like Viacom is a natural choice for a persistent Roblox space thanks to its wealth of local intellectual properties.
“Things like Ninja Turtles, Avatar, Spongebob – it’s one of the few brands that you can very easily imagine being a virtual theme park in the metaverse,” he said. “And so they came in there knowing they had the inventory of content that can support that kind of experience.”
The reality is that many brands would be better served dipping their toes into Roblox via limited-time events or activations, rather than persistent worlds.
“We’re newbies to the world of the metaverse, and how can we try something and then scale from there and figure out how to build more robust experiences, if there’s receptivity, or if we need to pivot and try something different? said Jeff Jenkins, vice president of global marketing for apparel brand OshKosh B’gosh, which launched a limited-time branded Roblox game called Fashion Runway last week. “It gives us the ability to do that, compared to some of the permanent experiences that are out there. I would say the brands that create more permanent experiences are a bit more advanced in their experience in the metaverse.”
What is clear is that, for the most part, limited-time Roblox activations receive more traffic and engagement than their always-on counterparts.
In October, a free burrito experience by Chipotle received massive engagement, with some users speculating the rush in traffic caused the platform’s servers to crash.
“Chipotle is probably the most successful branded event experience to date. We’ve done two now, and that can lead to them having a persistent world, and they have some amazing bones to work with,” said Josh Neuman, president of MELON, the metaverse development studio that designed the experience. . “So sometimes it can even be a hybrid, where we enter the space as an event, with a mindset that it might shift to a persistent world. But the initial entry point is focused on the events, and we’ve seen massive engagement.”
According to Warneford and other experts, limited-time events are more successful because there’s a clear impetus to experience them before they’re gone. They can also fit more easily into brands’ natural marketing cadences: after all, most brands’ marketing campaigns are usually time-limited rather than permanent.
“One of the big reasons we wanted to get through this time is because one of our biggest times for OshKosh is back to school,” Jenkins said. “After the three months, we’ll see where we go from there, if we extend or do something else.”
And with growing concerns about child safety in Roblox, time-limited activations offer brands the ability to connect with users in an arguably safer way than permanent experiences, which require more moderation and oversight. consistent.
It’s one of the reasons why clothing brand Happy Nation has teamed up with security tech company SuperAwesome to connect to BayView, one of the company’s pre-existing Roblox experiences, for lifetime activation. limited. “We wanted to make sure we were doing it the right way and really safe,” said Susan Anderson, Vice President of Creative at Happy Nation. “But we also wanted to authentically engage with the tween customer where they know they are creating, spending time, interacting.”
Despite the current prevalence of time-limited activations, some Metaverse experts believe the expansion of persistent branded virtual spaces is inevitable. They draw parallels between today’s proto-metavers platforms and the early days of social media, pointing out that today almost every brand has a Twitter or Facebook page.
“I believe the only interesting long-term avenue for brands is to have a persistent experience, and I think that’s part of learning and evolving,” said studio CEO Yonatan Raz-Fridman. metaverse design template. “Like what happened between 2010 and 2015 when smartphones and the iPhone app store and the Android app store really became a phenomenon and went from novelty to where we are today with the metaverse and Roblox and those types of experiences.”
To meet the unique needs of these persistent spaces, Raz-Fridman said, he anticipates that brands will start hiring live ops producers for virtual spaces, much like they currently employ social media managers. And as brands experiment with one-off events, they create virtual spaces that they can then transform into persistent, always-on worlds.
But for now, most brands are still in the early days of integrating their metaverse talent internally, and limited-time activations remain the easiest and most engaging form of Roblox activation.
“How many brands, or how many intellectual property portfolios, can create a Disneyland?” said Warneford. “There aren’t many brands that can build their own theme park, and even a theme park needs new rides all the time. It needs constant maintenance, staff, attractions, etc. there aren’t many who can do that.