Walmart Launches Immersive Experiences in Roblox
Walmart is joining the metaverse with two new immersive experiences in the online gaming platform Roblox. The experiences target younger shoppers.
Walmart says the launch of the experiences is part of the company’s bold move into the metaverse. The “experiences” consist of two online worlds called Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play and aim to advertise toys to kids.
Roblox, an online gaming platform, currently has over 50 million daily active users. Two-thirds of the platform’s users are below the age of 16. It is therefore likely that Walmart’s metaverse foray into immersive experience is a marketing experiment that tries to tap into this young market.
The Walmart Land and Universe of Play virtual worlds are in the form of virtual hobbies. They contain various experiences and minigames. There is a Ferris wheel, a DJ Booth, and an “interactive piano walkway”. All of the experiences have been designed to drive players to some brands.
There is, for instance, a virtual dressing room where players can spend the coins that they have collected in Walmart Land so they can deck their avatars with various accessories such as a Fitbit fitness tracker or Skullcandy headphones.
There is also the Universe of Play where players can engage in activities such as racing Razor scooters around a track or hanging out with PAW Patrol characters. The Walmart virtual worlds have basic graphics and basic gameplay mechanics but this is the kind of experience you’d expect in other Roblox worlds.
The metaverse is still a nascent concept but top brands and corporations have been showing great enthusiasm and are launching a presence in various metaverse and proto-metaverse worlds. As more users embrace the Web 3.0 phenomenon, we are going to see more brands spending advertising dollars on metaverse branding opportunities and in establishing metaverse land where different kinds of commercialization and monetization can occur.
The Walmart Land on Roblox has already logged a good number of hits with 200,000 “Welcome to Walmart Land” badges awarded so far. These are awarded to those who have joined the game for the first time. There are also other achievements such as receiving a free “loot box” from a blimp which has so far been won by only a few thousand players.
So far, only a few players are logging into Walmart Land. Walmart regards the metaverse as integral in its bid to connect to Gen Z, those who are 25 or younger.
Early this year, Walmart quietly filed a number of metaverse-related trademarks. Some of these trademarks have to do with the making and selling of virtual goods and providing users with virtual currency. Some of the trademarks also show that Walmart has an interest in nonfungible tokens (NFTs). Walmart hasn’t indicated whether it is planning to use these trademarks.
Walmart has said that its immersive experiences won’t make the company make. The experiences allow gamers to earn tokens and rewards that can be used on virtual merchandise on Roblox. Top brands like Skullcandy headphones, the toy label L.O.L. and Surprise! have been added to the Walmart experiences because of their popularity with the much younger audience of gamers on Roblox and not due to some commercial partnership with Walmart.
Walmart could monetize these immersive experiences in the future in various ways such as charging a brand to be added to its metaverse land or transforming users’ experiences into real-world store visits. The Walmart metaverse land could also be used for online purchases.
In October, there will be a virtual concert on Walmart Land dubbed, Electric Fest, that will include the artists Kane Brown, Madison Beer, and Yungblud.
Walmart is already trying to link its metaverse experiences with real-world experiences.
Universe of Play offers games with items from the top toy list of items in Walmart sold in the holiday season such as Jurassic World characters, Paw Patrol, and Razor scooters. Making this available is also a nudge to Roblox users to request these items. Walmart Land also features an obstacle course featuring oversized items from Walmart’s Gen Z-focused beauty brands including Bubble skincare products Sharon C’s Uoma makeup products. There is also a virtual dressing room with merchandise from fashion brands like Free Assembly.
Roblox attracted lots of new users during the pandemic. In 2021, the gaming platform also made its debut in the stock market. The gaming company says its platform grew from 32.6 million active users in 2020 to over 52 million. Historically, Roblox has attracted teens and young kids although the company says its platform is attracting users from a cross spectrum of users, including adults.
Most of Roblox’s revenues are generated from in-app purchases. However, the platform has also been testing online advertising and is planning to make a broad ad play in 2023.
Roblox is currently valued at $21.2 billion, and its shares have plunged close to 66% in 2022.
The growth of Roblox’s userbase has attracted a lot of brands and retailers ranging from teen brand PacSun to the high-end brand Ralph Lauren. The sports footwear brand vans recently launched a virtual skate park in Roblox.
Roblox recently did a year-in-review blog post where it talks about the success of brand experiences in Roblox. The blog post also reveals the top destinations on the platform for users aged 17 or older.
These top destinations include Nikeland in which users’ avatars can participate in a dunk contest. Users can also try on Nike’s gear. There is also Gucci Garden that allows users to try out a bevy of limited-edition virtual items and where avatars can also make poses.