The metaverse might baffle many adults, but kids with wider and wilder imaginations might be able to wrap their heads around the concept better than their elders. In particular, younger people have already been enjoying a preview of these virtual worlds through games like Minecraft and Roblox. Of course, the metaverse is more than just a game and involves the interaction between the physical and the digital in some manner. That might be the part that stumps these young ones, so Walmart is embarking on an adventure that will get kids used to this aspect of the metaverse by bringing its brand and shopping experience to Roblox.
Roblox is a child-friendly platform that lets kids (and even adults) unleash their creativity by building virtual objects, lands, and even games within the game. It’s pretty much like Minecraft but with more pixels, a bit more freedom, and plenty of safeguards to protect young users. Because of its open world design, it is practically a form of the metaverse that can be experienced without headsets. Naturally, it is also a fertile ground for establishing metaverse-related activities, like selling virtual goods and dealing in virtual money.
That’s the kind of opportunity that Walmart is now trying to grab with the announcement of two new experiences within the larger Roblox world. As the name suggests, the Universe of Play is an experience that revolves around playful activities, particularly toys. Virtual toys, of course. The highlight of this experience is Walmart’s blimp which will be showering Roblox users with a regular drop of toys to add to their collection.
Walmart Land, by comparison, is a more expansive metaverse setup. It has a place for music festivals, for example, something that is already common in Roblox. There is also a House of Style where kids can have fun discovering the world of fashion. Despite their different themes, both Walmart Land and Universe of Play experiences revolve around the concept of virtual merchandise or “verch” as a way for users to dress up and accessorize their avatars. Just like in a typical metaverse setting, these products have ties to real-world Walmart goods, except they’re exclusive to Roblox.
Walmart’s entry into the nascent metaverse ecosystem isn’t exactly surprising, but its decision to target a younger audience might ruffle a few feathers. It is inevitable that today’s kids will be the metaverse users of the future, so familiarizing them with concepts of virtual merchandise this early might not be a bad idea. That said, platforms like Roblox are already in danger of becoming a target of less conscientious companies, so new experiences focused on raising consumeristic mindsets might not sit well with some parents and guardians.