When most brands gain attention for activating on the Roblox platform, it's usually from creating a custom experience / virtual world. Famous examples include Nike's Nikeland, Walmart's Walmart Land and Sanrio's My Hello Kitty Cafe.
But building a full game from scratch is the hardest way for brands to connect with coveted Roblox users. Game development can be expensive, take a long time and lead to underwhelming results (like we recently saw with H&M).
Fortunately, there are other effective ways for brands to connect with Roblox users, including selling UGC virtual items and integrating into existing Roblox experiences.
Game Integrations = Guaranteed Reach
From our experience working with retailer Hot Topic, we've seen firsthand that integrating into existing Roblox games can be incredibly powerful.
It costs significantly less to rent space within an existing Roblox game versus building your own experience. Rather than spending in the ballpark of $250K - $600K+ to build your own game, brands can spend roughly between $75K - $450K to integrate into an existing game. And they will very likely reach more users in the process of integrating.
Since they aren't as complicated as building a whole game, in-game integrations also have a much shorter development timeline. Building a full experience might take 5-12 months, but brands can activate with relatively short notice via an integration, anywhere from 2-3 months all the way down to 2-3 weeks in some cases.
But what's most interesting about brand integrations is that brands can know in advance what they will get for their money. When you integrate into an existing game, that game already has a track record of attracting visitors. You can easily see on Roblox how much traffic that game gets, and you can then forecast what you'll get by being there. That's huge. It also makes it easier for brand employees to demonstrate to their superiors what their ROI will look like.
The same is not true of building a custom experience from scratch. You have no real idea if all of your money, time and energy will produce a successful hit game, or be a forgettable dud.
What to Look for When Integrating Into a Game
Searching across LinkedIn, Twitter and a wide variety of websites, we pulled together a list of Roblox games that have brought brands into their experiences. In looking at the Roblox games side-by-side, we pulled out a few data points that we believe brands should carefully consider when looking to integrate.
Daily Visits, Not Lifetime Visits
Some of the Roblox games that have welcomed in brands are also some of the biggest games on the platform with billions of visits. But do lifetime visits really matter? Well, if you're a brand looking to integrate, lifetime metrics don't matter as much as current metrics such as daily visits. You want to know how many people are playing these games NOW (not over the past five years), so you can figure out how many visits and visitors your brand will reach via a new integration campaign.
This is obvious, but it's better to put your brand in a game that is fun and holds players' attention. If your brand is in a popular but not super-engaging game, then it's possible that players won't really see or check out your integration. They may pop into the game, play or hang out a bit, and then leave. The longer the session time in the game, the more time players have to discover and engage with your brand.
Brand Sales Partner
If your brand is interested in entering Roblox via an integration, it makes sense to work with experts in the space who have a proven track record. Wildbrain (in partnership with Gamefam), Super League Gaming, SuperAwesome and Century Games have collectively done the bulk of Roblox in-game brand integrations, so they have learnings and processes they can share with new clients.
We worked with Super League Gaming to help Hot Topic integrate into three games, and the SLG team was awesome to work with. Great communication from start to finish, and they stayed on track through a tight schedule.
What Brands Are Integrating into Roblox?
Toys, retail and entertainment brands seem to be the most active ones integrating into existing Roblox games.
Brands: Bakugan, Barbie, Polly Pocket, LOL Surprise, Monster Jam and Beyblade
Toys make a lot of sense because this child-focused industry has been very aware of Roblox for years.
Brands: American Eagle, Gap, Athleta Girl, Hot Topic
For retailers, it's relatively straightforward to decide you want to a build a digital version of one of your stores in an existing Roblox game. Plus, there's lots of FOMO from so many brands testing the waters on Roblox.
Brands: Minions The Rise of Gru, Sing 2, Kung Fu Panda, Sonic Prime
Entertainment also makes sense because movie and tv show releases are looking to make a big splash that breaks through all of the noise in the world, and thusly they will concentrate their marketing spends at these critical moments.
The Top Roblox Games Are Massive
After months writing exclusively about branded experiences, it's refreshing (and exciting) to look at this other part of the Roblox ecosystem, which truly is the most massive and robust overall. The top games on Roblox are huge and the represent a major opportunity for brands looking to reach a scaled audience. The key word is "scaled." These games get you scale right away. Guaranteed.
Not only is Adopt Me! the most-visited Roblox game of all time, it also stands heads and shoulders above all other games offering brands the opportunity to integrate. Its 16 million daily visits is more than 3x the amount as the next game on our list, Livetopia.
What's been interesting about Adopt Me! is how picky they've been when selecting brand partners for integrations. So far they've partnered twice with Universal / Illumination movie releases Sing 2 and Minions The Rise of Gru, which are obviously super popular and well-established brands. By being so selective and only bringing in brands who will resonate with their audience, developer Uplift Games is doing a good job of protecting their own brand and ensuring they maintain their players' support and trust over time.
The Minions campaign ran for 2 weeks leading up to the film's release in theaters last summer.
14 day campaign in Adopt Me! = 224 million visits total
56.7 million hours of playtime over that period
*Note: 16 million daily visits is how many average visits Adopt Me! currently has as of the time of this writing (over the last 14 days), which is not exactly how many average visits when this Minions integration happened last summer.
Reaching that huge an audience around the world and in their target demo was likely a huge win for the Illumination marketing team.
What stands out for me about Livetopia is the sheer volume of brand integrations they've done. Invisalign, Polly Pocket, Barbie, Athleta Girl, Mariah Carey, Walmart and American Eagle have all integrated into the game. This is truly impressive.
Taking a closer look at the Barbie campaign, it led to major scale.
30 day campaign - 115.5 million visits total
28.5 million hours of playtime over that period
*Note: 3.85 million daily visits is how many average visits Livetopia curently has as of the time of this writing (over the last 14 days), which is not exactly how many average visits when this Barbie integration happened in October of 2022.
This brand integration also include several sponsored Influencer videos on YouTube. Guessing each of these cost in the ballpark of $25K - $40K range to commission.
How many unique visitors did this in-game integration reach?
Livetopia has a welcome badge, so we know that their total uniques is roughly equal to about 10% of their lifetime visits. So we can estimate that their 115.5 million visits came from about 11.55 million uniques over the course of the campaign.
Launching Across Multiple Games
For brands looking to make a bigger splash, they sometimes go the route of integrating into more than just one game.
When the Netflix show Sonic Prime launched, it was supported by a big marketing push on Roblox. Not only did the first episode premiere exclusively with in the Sonic Speed Simulator experience, but there was promotion across 3 games on Roblox. This was a very smart move and likely made easy by the fact that the same company who runs Sonic Speed Simulator, Gamefam, also owns a network of games for integrations.
For Hot Topic's Halloween campaign focused on selling UGC items, the retailer integrated into three different games. That gave their brand more exposure to more audience, as well as more data to evaluate campaign performance.
Building a Following Through Integrations
What's nice about integrating into an existing game is that it's quick and easy. Brands don't have to create an account to get started. They just need to lock in a creative concept, deliver some brand style guides and creative assets, and they're off and running.
But I feel that's a missed opportunity. As I recently shared, brands can build social followings on Roblox through Roblox groups. I would recommend that brands that integrate into the platform also start a Roblox group. That will allow them to form a community and see what those members say about them and what they want to see next.
Brands Integrating Into Other Brand Games
It's been exciting to see brands teaming up to enter Roblox. iHeart Media and Walmart have been very aggressive in this respect. iHeart Media launched its experience with major sponsors Intel and State Farm. Walmart launched its experience with Netflix, Lottie London, the Jonas Brothers, and others.
But as you can see, the scale these branded games reach is tiny when compared to the other top Roblox games listed above.
This is not to say that brands should not partner with other brands within Roblox games. There can be mutual benefits in terms of press and learnings that makes entering these spaces valuable for brands.
If you decide to enter Roblox, there are huge benefits from tapping into the existing Roblox ecosystem, which can assuredly get your brand in front of millions of active players around the world.
If you're interested in bring your brand into Roblox but need help figuring out what to do, please drop me an email at email@example.com.
Stephen Dypiangco is the CEO of Metaverse Marcom, a strategy and consulting firm helping entertainment and sports brands enter the metaverse.