David Kleeman - Roblox isn’t One Game, but the “YouTube of Games.”
We’re barreling toward what promises to be a very strange holiday season for the toy industry. With stores still under tight restrictions and parents anxious about browsing in person, companies are scrambling to get their IP in front of kids in a playful setting. Their best tool for discovery may be the online game platform Roblox.
For those unfamiliar, Roblox isn’t one game, but the “YouTube of games.” Anyone can play and anyone can build and publish. Since before the pandemic, use has been rising like no other platform: Roblox’ 150 million worldwide users log 1.5 billion hours monthly. Half of all US children play at least weekly.
What does this have to do with toy companies? Roblox games have sold over 40 million toys. The company aims to have half of all US toys carry a Roblox scan tag by 2023. There’s interplay between the physical and digital, in that Roblox toys often come with a code for an exclusive in-game item. But, there are other ways to have a toy presence on Roblox.
Your brand may be on the platform already, without your knowing it. User-generated games are a massive sector among the 19 million unique titles. One media company told Dubit that its top brand was being discovered more often via unofficial games than via its own marketing efforts.
Now, companies are officially putting Roblox to use as a discovery tool. They’re building games and hangouts where kids can immerse themselves in the brand universe and products. Because Roblox is a substantially social platform, young people are engaging alongside friends and other players.
Roblox is an open platform without an age gate. Per Dubit’s research, play begins around age 5, peaks at 10, and hangs on into the tween years. The company is focused on aging up the quality, complexity and branding of games to keep older teens and young adults engaged.
The platform developer tools enable a broad array of game types, meaning that pretty much any toy, game, puzzle or product can be embedded into a well-suited play pattern. With so many amateur-made games (including by children), one that’s professionally designed can stand out.
Parents and kids miss shopping in toy stores. In Dubit interviews this summer, a mother described how web shopping pales by comparison, saying “she’d get so excited, but now when I show her online it’s not the same; she will want it but no excitement.” Putting your product into the playful context of a game sparks imagination and allowing the child to test its appeal.
Dubit has produced a free report on Roblox and brands. Download it here to see if there’s a logical opportunity for your IP.
David Kleeman is SVP of Global Trends for Dubit, a research and strategy consultancy and digital studio focused on kids and teens. David has been a children’s media industry leader for 35 years.