Nike revealed “Nikeland,” a new interactive space inside of the Roblox gaming platform, per a blog post. It represents the athletic apparel marketer’s biggest bet yet on the metaverse.
The virtual venue is inspired by the company’s real-life headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, and hosts a variety of games for users to participate in through their Roblox avatars. Activities at launch include tag, the floor is lava and dodgeball, as well as a digital showroom for visitors to try on Nike gear ranging from the classic Air Force 1 and Nike Blazer to newer iterations such as the Air Force 1 Fontanka and Air Max 2021.
The effort targeted at Gen Z and Gen Alpha enables users to tie activity measured by accelerometers in their mobile devices to online play, so movement in real-life informs in-game actions like long jumps or speed runs. To promote Nikeland, the brand created a special Snapchat lens tailored to its House of Innovation location in New York. The lens lets shoppers apply an augmented reality filter to the kids’ floor of the retail store that surfaces Nikeland avatars, games, and Easter Eggs. It goes live in December.
Nike is taking its first big step into the metaverse with the immersive new Roblox platform, an online sports park, and showcase for the brand’s products, new and old. A move like this was potentially expected after reports surfaced in recent weeks that the company had filed trademarks related to virtual sneakers and apparel.
Still, Nikeland is another signal that blue-chip marketers are taking the metaverse seriously as they try to bridge digital and real-world strategies and engage young consumers who are familiar with gaming while being averse to traditional advertising tactics. Vans, Chipotle, and Hyundai are among the other companies experimenting with promotions on Roblox. A recent Vans World activation that carries similarities with Nikeland, like online games and virtual try-ons, drew over 40 million visits, Roblox executives stated.
Nike has laid some groundwork ahead of the mainstreaming of the metaverse as a concept. Its Air Jordan brand previously dropped digital versions of its sneakers in Fortnite.
But Nikeland is far more extensive and appears to be a long-term play encouraging repeat visits. Nike has provided several activities for users to participate in for the rollout but also shared a Nikeland toolkit so creators can design their own mini-games and interactive sports materials moving forward. Players are rewarded with blue ribbons and gold medals for competing, exploring, and finding Easter Eggs in the space. Those rewards can subsequently be used to unlock virtual products for their avatars and acquire more in-game materials.
Underpinning Nikeland is the idea of access, according to the company. The venue is free to enter for Roblox players, a bid to address the cost barrier of real-life sports. Nikeland comes as part of the marketer’s larger efforts to turn sport and play into a lifestyle for younger consumers that is inclusive and accessible. That initiative also features the formation of the Nike Play Council, a new group of young athletes and creators who will collaborate directly with Nike as it tries to gauge what Gen Alpha wants out of sports.
Nikeland notches another victory for Roblox, which has emerged as a leading metaverse contender in the gaming category. The platform, which went public in March, saw revenue up 102% year-on-year to $509.3 million in the third quarter. Average daily users reached 47.3 million, a 31% YoY increase. Discussing the results with analysts, executives described advertising as an “enormous opportunity.”