Roblox eliminates free UGC for brands, drastically limiting key user acquisition tool
Every week we at Metaverse Marcom publish exclusive research about how brands are activating on the Roblox platform. And at the start of each month, we gather data on how many visits branded games have gotten on Roblox during the previous month in order to see what's currently popular on the platform.
-7% Monthly Decrease Across Top 20 Branded Games
When looking at the top 20 branded games combined, overall visits dropped 7% month-over-month. In April, the top 20 games collectively had 144.7 million visits, versus having 135.1 million in May.
Free UGC Depreciated - Negatively Impacts Branded Game Visits
A couple of weeks ago, we outlined how brands like Hello Kitty have leveraged giving away free UGC virtual items within their Roblox experience in order to drive traffic. This has proven to be a very successful tactic that can play a huge role in whether a branded game has a strong start or not.
When a brand gives away free UGC, it triggers a chain reaction, involving YouTube and TikTok creators making videos about the special opportunity. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of players watch those videos and then go visit the games to claim the highly-coveted items.
But the days of brands being able to give away millions of free UGC items to players are gone. That's not to say that brands can no longer offer free UGC items to players. They certainly still can do that. However, now brands must pay Roblox for each free UGC item that they give away, which means that there's new costs associated with this tactic. Want to give away lots of UGC items for free? It will cost you $$.
This fundamentally shifts the Roblox branded game space tremendously because game developers no longer have their most-effective traffic driving tool at their disposal for free.
What does this mean?
Well, for starters it means that game developers and Roblox marketers will have to evolve their plans to uncover new traffic-driving mechanisms. We imagine that this will spur lots of creative testing as the industry looks for new solutions.
From my perspective, I'm excited about how well-established marketing tools like social media, email, contests, giveaways, promo codes, affiliate marketing, etc. can be refined within the context of driving not only traffic, but also monetization to brands on Roblox. This is a huge opportunity for the entire branded Roblox ecosystem to evolve its marketing plans to become more sophisticated and effective.
In addition, this change means we should expect to see branded games that have thus far relied on giving free UGC to have their traffic decline.
We're stating to see some of these declines happen already.
Vita Coco has had strong results over the past two months, racking up over 11 million visits in May. However, in their Roblox description section, they called out that their free UGC has gone away...
NOTICE TO USERS: Thank you for supporting The Coconut Grove! May 22nd was the last day to earn limited UGC but stay tuned for more events! With your help we planted over 100,000 seedlings. Join our group and follow us on social for more updates.
And similarly a My Hello Kitty Cafe player shared confusion in the official Roblox group around Hello Kitty free UGC disappearing earlier than expected...
"Guys, can I still get a cinnamon hat? They wrote that you can get it from March ## # #### 22, but I can't get it. Or have I got that wrong?"
It's possible that free UGC being taken away from My Hello Kitty Cafe led to the game's steep 44% decrease in monthly visits to 14.6 million visits, dropping it from 1st to 4th place in our brand rankings.
But not all branded games have relied in free UGC to drive traffic. Warrior Cats: Ultimate Edition released a new game update called "Prey" in May that saw the game have a 45% increase in monthly visits to over 15 million.
Will brands and branded game developers be able to follow in Warrior Cats' footsteps, creating fun to play games with exciting updates? We hope so. Because that's likely what it will take to break through the noise on Roblox and truly connect with an engaged audience.
Brands Ranked 11-20
Here are the remaining top-performing brands from this past month:
11. Karlie Kloss - 3 million
12. Squishmallows - 2.8 million
13. Singapore Tourism Board - 2.7 million *new release
14. Cartoon Network Game On - 2.69 million
15. NHL Blast - 2.3 million
16. Tommy Hilfiger - 2 million
17. Froot Loops World - 2 million
18. Build-A-Bear Tycoon - 1.8 million
19. Spotify Island - 1.5 million
20. iHeart Radio - 1.4 million
Interested in exploring Roblox as a pathway for marketing and monetization for your brand? Need help developing updated marketing plans that drive not only traffic to your Roblox experience, but also monetization opportunities? If so, email us at hello@metaversemarcomio
Stephen Dypiangco is the CEO of Metaverse Marcom, a strategy and consulting firm helping entertainment and sports brands enter the metaverse.