Fan engagement and monetization opportunities broaden on the platform.
When I was in college at Georgetown University years ago, my friend Joe and I enjoyed playing NBA 2K. In addition to playing with our favorite professional teams and players, we also enjoyed the game's avatar creation tools.
We spent several hours molding and shaping the off-the-shelf bodies to resemble the players on our own Georgetown men's basketball team (who made it to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen that year).
Once our 2K avatars matched the height, body shape and skin tones to the real life people, we then dialed in their ability levels in terms of gameplay: passing, shooting, speed, defense, etc.
After playing several games with our college team, Joe and I decided to go one step further. We created ourselves as avatars and inserted ourselves in the game. We gave ourselves incredible in-game skills and then went toe to toe in contests against the NBA's best players.
It was so much fun taking people who existed in our real lives and then transport them into our gaming experience, where we spent so much time hanging out.
Why am I sharing all of this personal history from years ago?
Because wish fulfillment and self-expression through avatars has taken a big step forward on Roblox.
Avatar Bodies Now Available
In a recent post "UGC Program: Expanding Creation and Monetization with Avatar Bodies and Heads," Roblox announced that members of its UGC program can now create full avatar bodies and heads.
Before this announcement, avatar bodies had been available for purchase on the platform. However, not everybody could create them. Avatars could only be released by the Roblox account, which meant that only Roblox itself and its brand partners could participate.
One such brand partner to create avatars was Elton John.
By opening up this program to the community, Roblox is widening the opportunities for fans to have more fun and for creators (and brands) to monetize.
I see official branded avatars as a big win for players. They get to "dress up" as their heroes, hang out with their friends while showing off their fandom, and role play to their heart's content.
Opportunities for Brands
For brands that have recognizable people and characters at the core of its business, Roblox avatars present a new opportunity for greater fan engagement and monetization.
The entertainment, music and sports industries probably have the most to gain, since they have strong fan followings and well known people at their core.
Types of brands I believe have an opportunity to perform well with Roblox Avatars:
Movies - Superheroes
TV - Cartoons
Social Media - Influencers
Musicians - across genres from pop to hip hop
Real people and virtual musicians
Professionals - Current and retired
Avatar Body Price Ranges
The Roblox announcement shared the following details around pricing:
"Bodies and heads have no upload fee and no minimum price. Avatars are an essential part of your identity on Roblox and bodies and heads are the foundation. Therefore, we want to encourage the creation of bodies and heads and give people greater access to them by removing upload fees and price minimums"
This very flexible pricing policy is interesting, and we're seeing early uploads range in price significantly. On the low end, you have a variety of avatars that are either completely free or for super low prices such as 2 Robux (R$). On the higher end, you're seeing avatars go for 150 - 250 R$.
From a brand perspective, both of these pricing strategies could make sense, depending on what your business objectives are.
If you're looking to raise awareness and maximize reach, you can offer avatars for free. If you're looking to drive monetization, then charging a fee would be the best route.
Community-Made Avatars Currently for Sale
Since this new development about a week ago, Roblox UGC designers have started to make and upload their own creations. They range from traditional human forms to super stylized creatures.
We are in the very early days of community-made avatars, and it will be interesting to see the variety of body types that emerge and perform well.
Challenges for Brands
The new opportunities that avatars open up for brands are considerable. But they're not for everyone.
They're not a good fit for brands that are very conservative and risk averse.
Because these brands will have a hard time giving up control to the Roblox community. They will have a hard time with the idea that fans can buy their avatars and then dress them up in a competitor's virtual clothing. Or that the avatar would be played in a competitors' branded experience.
But bold and brave brands will understand these challenges and embrace them. They'll be willing to test and learn, and that will help them get ahead in this new frontier.
If your brand is interested in bringing your IP to Roblox via avatars, we would love to help you. Just drop us an email at email@example.com
Stephen Dypiangco is the CEO of Metaverse Marcom, a strategy and consulting firm helping entertainment brands enter Roblox and start monetizing.
Want more insights to master Roblox for brands?