Walmart has launched a pair of “immersive experiences” in online gaming platform Roblox. The retailer is presenting the launch as an ambitious move into the metaverse, but the “experiences” — two online worlds dubbed Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play — are really just ways to advertise toys to children. Roblox may seem trivial, but it has more than 50 million daily active users, two-thirds of which are under the age of 16. That means it’s probably Walmart experimenting with virtual worlds to try and hook this market.
Walmart Land and Universe of Play are virtual lobbies. Inside are a variety of minigames and experiences, including a Ferris wheel, “interactive piano walkway,” and DJ booth, most of which serve to funnel players towards certain brands. So, for example, a virtual dressing room lets you spend coins collected in Walmart Land to deck out your avatar with Skullcandy headphones or a Fitbit fitness tracker. In Universe of Play you can race Razor scooters round a track or hang out with PAW Patrol characters. It’s all incredibly basic in terms of graphics and gameplay mechanics, but that’s par for the course for Roblox.