Would anyone be interested in growing virtual potatoes in the metaverse? Delving into the chaotic virtual worlds of Roblox’s corporate landscape.
Gone are the times when a roadside billboard and a costly TV commercial during X Factor were sufficient for promoting your product. In today’s world, advertising in online video games like Roblox is necessary. For those unfamiliar, Roblox is essentially a subpar version of Minecraft where users, primarily children, can design and share their own games to potentially earn money.
The gaming platform Roblox has over 50 million games available to play on mobile devices, computers, or game consoles. It is reported that 19% of children in the UK play on Roblox. While it has had success stories of teenagers becoming millionaires from their bedroom, it also has a darker side. Some children have spent thousands of dollars on virtual items and there have been allegations of the platform being used for grooming. However, this has not stopped corporations from creating their own branded worlds on Roblox. Imagine virtually experiencing the excitement of a budget airline flight or learning about how frozen chips are made. We went through the worst corporate tie-ins on Roblox and even found an unofficial Ryanair world, so you don’t have to.
The future of McCain Farms
Have you ever been curious about the process of making potato chips? (Hint: it involves growing potatoes, cutting them into chips, and voila!) If so, then the Farms of the Future event is perfect for you. I reluctantly learned about the future of potatoes, which unfortunately does not involve a highly advanced and sentient Super Potato like in Peppa Pig. Instead, it focuses on regenerative farming methods for potatoes. To my disappointment, there won’t be any flying tractors or cows wearing sweaters on their hind legs at these futuristic farms. Instead, you’ll gain knowledge about soil health, biodiversity, and how to adapt to climate change while making your own chips and building your own farm to grow more regenerative potatoes. However, I must admit, it’s not exactly the most thrilling topic, comparable to a plain boiled potato.
L’Oréal Paris Hair Colour
Accepting the L’Oréal Paris Hair Colour Challenge gives me the opportunity to win hair. As it has been a while since I’ve had hair, I am eager to take on this challenge. Similar to McCain Farms of the Future, L’Oréal Paris Hair Colour is a part of Livetopia, a constantly changing virtual world in Roblox, rather than a separate game. It functions more as an advertisement, a short activity to do while exploring for something more interesting.
My task is to select the perfect hair color for my three clients: Alix, Eve, and Sam. They are very particular about their hair, so it takes some experimentation. However, I am able to make them happy (if only they had faces) and claim the victory for best hair. I feel like the scene from The Simpsons where Homer finds Dimoxinil and joyfully runs through the streets.
Samsung Space Tycoon
Unfortunately, downloading Samsung Space Tycoon on an iPhone does not have the explosive effect that one might hope for – a missed opportunity for one of Apple’s top competitors. However, Space Tycoon offers a more intriguing experience than a visit to the Apple Store. Players navigate a space station, collecting materials like copper and cobalt to produce Samsung products such as Galaxy Watches and Z Flip phones. These products can then be sold to generate funds, which can be used to hire an extraterrestrial workforce to assemble future Samsung items like hoverboards, pogo sticks, and Z Flip backpacks. The game also includes various mini-games to break up the somewhat repetitive tasks of mining, crafting, and selling. It is clear that the game is heavily branded by Samsung, but it stands out as the best option currently available. Therefore, it deserves an extra Samsung-branded star for that achievement.
Victoria’s Secret Happy Nation
Prior to contacting the authorities or venting on Mumsnet, there is a legitimate explanation for why Victoria’s Secret, known for their lacy lingerie, has joined the metaverse geared towards children. They have recently released a line of “inclusive and gender-neutral” products, including loungewear, swimwear, undergarments, and skincare, under the brand Happy Nation, targeting tweens. This initiative aims to create a safe and non-judgmental community that supports and embraces tweens during a pivotal stage in their lives. In my day, all we received were hand-me-down razors and acne pads.
According to my research, the Roblox game “Happy Nation” involves navigating a cheerful mall, sliding down slides, personalizing shirts, and participating in obstacle games to earn virtual currency for purchases. This game is part of the BayView metaverse, a constantly changing virtual mall on Roblox. However, when I tried to find the game, it had already been removed from the BayView metaverse, making it unavailable for both you and me to play. Too bad.
Hats off to 19-year-old Aberdeen computer science student Sebastian Codling, who coded the unofficial Ryanair Roblox world when he was just 11. Since 2015, Codling has helped simulate more than a million Ryainair flights with all the thrills, spills, frustration and wanting to jump out of the airplane window of the real thing. Speaking to the Times this October, Codling explained how he now employs full-time staff to cope with the demand from more than 80,000 members.
Unlike the majority of Roblox games, you can’t just download and play. Instead, you have to book an “actual” ticket. There are more flights in the evenings, after school. I’m booked in on the 19:45 from Kraków. Value tickets are free, Flexi Plus cost 620 Robux or £5.50 in real money. (Roblox takes a cut of all its game creators’ profits, which explains why the company has just been valued at £19bn.)
After completing the check-in process at the (virtual) airport in real time, the experience closely mirrors that of a physical airport. It includes expensive food options, long lines for check-in, and fees for any luggage exceeding a certain weight. The remarkable aspect is that all the individuals you encounter are real people playing on Roblox, from fellow passengers to staff members and even the pilot. You can even apply for a job at Roblox Ryanair. Despite there being 83 passengers on my flight, I was removed from the flight because I wanted to test the reaction of the check-in agent by mentioning a bomb in my suitcase. I was then escorted away to face security consequences. However, in this virtual space, there is no charge for using the restroom.