- Hyundai and Vans are the latest marketers to experiment on Roblox, the online gaming platform and game creation system, according to separate announcements.
- The "Hyundai Mobility Adventure" is the first Roblox activation of its kind from a global automaker. The shared virtual space, which contains five themed parks and will launch in October after a beta test, showcases the company's future mobility products like a Nexo hydrogen fuel cell crossover vehicle and the Ioniq 5 all-electric SUV. Hyundai is aiming to familiarize young consumers with these offerings in the hopes that it can forge long-lasting customer relationships.
- Similarly, the "Vans World" skatepark is an online venue where Roblox players can gather to practice tricks and try on virtual gear, including four customizable shoe silhouettes. Both efforts demonstrate how established marketers are increasingly turning to the "metaverse" to engage young consumers who have shunned traditional media.
The Hyundai and Vans partnerships with Roblox offer the latest sign that marketers are taking the metaverse seriously. The term loosely refers to shared virtual spaces that bridge offline and online worlds, with massively multiplayer games like Roblox and Fortnite oft-cited examples.
While the metaverse concept has floated around for years, the pandemic's focus on hybrid experiences has granted it a larger spotlight and more legitimacy. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg recently espoused on reinventing the social media giant as a "metaverse company," believing that the metaverse is a natural successor to the mobile internet. Only time will tell whether the idea is an actual step-change or just another buzzword. For now, platforms like Roblox act as a key testing ground for consumer receptiveness to marketing in the metaverse.
Roblox, which went public in March, commands more than 43 million daily active users, many of them kids. The company is not a traditional video game publisher but instead offers creation tools so users can make their own games to share with friends online. That free-form approach allows marketers to tailor experiences toward different goals, and Roblox has been deliberately ramping up its brand partnerships to capitalize on the higher volume of media dollars flowing toward the gaming category, as reported in Digiday. Nike, Gucci and Warner Bros. are among the companies that have recently tapped into Roblox's popularity.
Hyundai is using the platform as a way to put its forward-looking mobility solutions in front of young consumers who may soon be in the market for a car and are shown to care more about issues like sustainability. The five parks on display will encompass everything from a race track to an "ultramodern metropolis" and technology research center. Two of them — the Future Mobility City and central Festival Square — are available in beta now, while others will go live throughout the year. Hyundai is spacing out the rollout to factor in player feedback and experiment with fresh ideas.
Vans worked with Roblox community developers The Gang Stockholm on "Vans World," which applies new in-game physics technology to better replicate the feeling of skateboarding. The virtual park is based on real-world locations like the House of Vans and Vans Off The Wall Skatepark in California. It is the brand's first attempt at marketing in the metaverse.
Roblox reported earnings in August that came in well below analyst expectations, per MarketWatch. Losses totaled $140.1 million in the second quarter, though executives said user engagement was at its highest levels to date.