The Metaverse: ask 100 different people how to define it and it’s likely you’ll get 100 different answers. That can make it hard to understand, what it actually is, and how it can most effectively be leveraged within a brand or IP strategy.
But as we recently discussed on the Layer Licensing in Games podcast with this month’s guest, Ricardo Briceno from GameFam, it’s actually pretty simple when you strip it back. At its core, the metaverse is just the latest way we can connect, engage, and play together. You can listen to the full podcast with Ricardo here, or read on for our top 5 insights from a fantastic chat with one of the leading voices in the Metaverse gaming space.
Metaverse gaming is not just about gaming; it's a space where people (especially Gen Z and Gen Alpha) actively engage, socialize, and build communities. Platforms such as Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite have more than 500 million monthly active users, showing that the Metaverse is clearly an important part of where the younger generation lives and connects with friends.
As Ricardo says: “It’s not just about gaming, it’s a lot about social, it’s a lot about community. And that’s kind of the way that [users] live their day to day. They go to school or to work, they have real-life activities, and then they transition very fluidly to Metaverse gaming to continue hanging out with their friends.”
What’s key for both brands and games in the Metaverse is how they can actively engage with these communities in unique ways, whether that’s through integrated experiences, games, or events.
The Metaverse offers a unique opportunity for brands to reach a demographic that is often hard to target through traditional means. Engagement and brand love are central to this new landscape.
Ricardo distills it down by saying “The inherent concepts of brands having presence across multiple platforms hasn’t gone away, even though nobody uses the word transmedia anymore… It is increasingly important for brands to have a presence [in the Metaverse] because these are some of the places where A) you can deliver a lot of engagement, but B) where you can reach a target demographic that’s so hard to reach”.
Being present and across multiple touch-points is key to any good brand strategy. Think about how a brand will show-up across Youtube, Instagram and TikTok. It’s the integrated mix that is important and the Metaverse is part of that mix; an increasingly important part, too.
Part of the beauty of the metaverse is the versatility it presents for brands, depending on the objectives of a brand or IP owner, different activation strategies can be employed in the Metaverse.
A great example of this is Gamefam’s work with Bakugan, a toy brand that leveraged Roblox to drive toy sales, increase viewership of its show, and build brand loyalty, all of which were successful via different activation strategies on the same platform.
No matter the activation strategy, each one at its core is the concept of community and engagement. Or as Ricardo puts it, the metaverse “can deliver the engagement of experiential marketing. We all love experiential marketing, we know how rich it is, but it’s limited by the scale. In this case, there’s the scale of digital”.
It’s the scale of digital that makes the metaverse unique when compared to other forms of experiential marketing. One of Gamefam’s first concerts was 24kGoldn, and in the first performance they had over 115,000 concurrent users/ “There aren’t many arenas in the world that can hold that many people,” Ricardo says. For the record, we googled it, and there’s only one.
The Metaverse presents a unique path to what is increasingly becoming a very important but hard-to-reach audience, younger generations across both genders.
Ricardo took us through a great example of a brand getting ahead of the game by engaging with this younger audience now to build awareness and loyalty in the future. Intuit, a software company that specialises in financial software, might not initially strike you as a brand that would leverage Roblox, but Ricardo provides a fascinating insight into their motivations, “to Intuit, it was important to be in front of the audience of Gen Z, Gen Alpha that it is on Roblox. They’re not necessarily selling any products to that audience, but they want to start building…some awareness, because this is a really important audience. In 5-10 years, they’re gonna be their consumers. And they’re trying to get ahead”.
For brand owners and IP holders, the key is to maximize opportunities for fans to engage with their brand throughout the day, wherever they already are. We’ve already touched on this previously in the form of experiential marketing at a digital scale, but just as important is the ability o actively interact with your brand, something that gaming is perfectly positioned to do. You can have followers on Instagram and on YouTube, and that is important, but at the end of the day it’s limited; the audience can watch or view the content but they can’t actively engage with it.
Gamefam really shows the potential of the Metaverse for audience engagement via their recent work with Barbie. In Barbie Dreamhouse Tycoon, the player controls their Barbie, building up resources and their dreamhouse over time, customising everything from hair and outfits to accessories on their unique character. They can also play minigames that bring to characters to life from the extended universe, drive around in Barbie-themed vehicles, and play through Barbie's many and varied careers.
As Ricardo says “Barbie is also a brand that has innovated and reinvented itself many, many times and it felt like this was a space where we wanted to push things a little further…coming up with what Barbie will look like, what the dream house would look like on Roblox was a really fun, challenging, and interesting journey that we took on with the Mattel creative team”