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Roblox touts huge Russian player base, targets Metaverse ads

Roblox Corporation has over 2 million active players in Russia, even as it looks to expand its Metaverse offering.

Some of the new products will include Metaverse ads from well-known partners such as Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Chipotle. Developers can add ads via interactive billboards, taxi roofs, posters, or other areas and get a cut of ad revenue. There will also be in-game 3-D portals that can take gamers to new branded experiences, such as Gucci Town or one of Chipotle’s virtual restaurants.

Roblox has expanded its user base in Russia and major bookmakers have withdrawn from the region to punish the Kremlin for invading Ukraine. Heavyweights such as Electronic Arts Inc., Ubisoft Entertainment SA and Nintendo Co. have stopped or cut sales to Russia, paving the way for Roblox to establish its presence. The game has approximately 11 million active users in the United States

At its recent developer conference, Roblox announced that it would be cautious when deciding which brands could occupy real estate in its virtual world environment. Immersive ads will target players 13 and older and will comply with new age guidelines that the company will publish.

Big brands already occupying Roblox real estate, so where does the Meta platform (aka Facebook) want to be the business hub of the virtual world?

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg positioned the company’s virtual world as a multi-faceted environment with opportunities to have virtual world meetings, socialize, shop, learn and play games. So far, the company has used education as a tool to familiarize virtual world developers with the work required to build virtual worlds. It also pioneered Horizon Worlds VR, a virtual reality experience available to users of the Oculus Quest VR headset, which one expert says is a testing ground for business opportunities and what people are willing to pay in the metaverse the touchstone.

So far, the creators of Roblox have been using a virtual currency called Robux to buy ad space, mostly to entice players to play their game. Players also use Robux to make purchases in the Metaverse, with a portion of the revenue going to Roblox.

Meta has not disclosed whether it will use cryptocurrencies as a payment method in the Metaverse. Notoriously, it tried to create its own virtual currency and faced backlash from regulators, but failed . But earlier this year, it announced the release of a virtual currency aimed at a small group of developers to receive payments for VIP access and items like jewelry. It is unclear whether this new currency will be the basis of the Metaverse economy.

Who will successfully monetize Metaverse? While Roblox seems to be all the rage in the yet-to-be-tested metaverse advertising space, it started out as a physics simulation engine, not a company that relies on advertising for revenue. But, to its credit, it touts optimism and civility as key components of player engagement, in stark contrast to the massive PR scandals that have rocked Meta in recent years.

Still, given Zuckerberg’s ambitions and Meta’s hard-hitting history, it’s not hard to see that it’s making a serious effort towards $1 billion in Metaverse revenue.

But it still has some work to do.


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