Here’s what 2 hours as a Roblox avatar in ‘Walmart Land’ really feels like

It feels like every business is getting into the metaverse—loosely defined as a series of virtual platforms where people can work, play, or shop—with much of corporate America fully embracing its favorite new buzzword.

Results have been mixed, but that didn’t stop Walmart from joining the club by launching two metaverse experiences, Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play, in the open-world game Roblox on Monday. They feature some of the store’s product lines, including store brand Great Value, cruelty-free makeup brand Lottie London, and even Rob’s Backstage Popcorn, the brand co-founded by the Jonas Brothers.

I spent two hours in Walmart Land, to get a better idea of how it all works. The environment felt corporate and there were approximately 500 people playing when my account was created. Immediately, I found my avatar standing in the world’s “central hub,”It was basically a shopping center that users could shop in. “verch,”Or virtual merchandise, like pants and shirts, as well as accessories for their avatars. Many were Walmart-themed.

Walmart spokesperson said that the verch does not have monetary value but that users could purchase it with coins they earned while playing games or exploring the world. After running around and collecting tokens scattered all over the map, it was finally possible to shop.

I bought a Hawkins High School pullover, as seen in Stranger ThingsI bought some white sweatpants at Walmart-owned clothing store Bonobos and a pair black Skullcandy headphone. I was tempted to buy the Walmart-branded bucket hat, but sadly hadn’t scavenged enough tokens. When I left the game briefly, I was disappointed to find I couldn’t take the clothes with me, but when I came back they reappeared on my avatar.

The map includes a central hub as well as two islands, Electric Island (House of Style) and three more slots with their respective logos. “coming soon” sign. On Electric Island I mixed some beats in the world’s virtual DJ booth and participated in a dance competition, while in the House of Style I took a selfie of my avatar in the virtual selfie room and played a Lottie London-themed game where I had to quickly replicate the nail colors on one hand to the other.

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Screenshot by Marco Quiroz Gutierrez

The world was entertaining and offered many experiences, despite some issues with lag. Still, it’s hard to escape how corporate it felt.

Many commented that the experience was not pleasant. However, they were excited about the free verch items Walmart was giving away, including a special Walmart Land letterman jacket, which somehow eluded them.

Still, one user Quazario22, who declined to give their name for privacy reasons, called Walmart’s Roblox experience “soulless,”And he said that while it looked aesthetically similar, the experience was lacking.

“The game doesn’t seem to have a point, and seems to be a bunch of ideas thrown at a wall,”They told me.

I understood better after exploring more. For example, I clicked on a taco truck on Electric Island and all that came up was a recipe for a taco quesadilla with Great Value ingredients.

Taco Quesadilla recipe

Screenshot by Marco Quiroz Gutierrez

In a four-story structure that also housed a trivia game for Netflix shows was a pointless room filled with giant pieces of popcorn dedicated to Rob’s Backstage Popcorn. The only thing I could do in the room was to watch the video of Kevin Jonas, one of the Jonas Brothers, hyping the brand.

However, not everyone was unhappy. MintCookiezzzzz, an anonymous user, told me they enjoyed the game, especially the freebies and the ferris wheel that offers a 360-degree view of the globe.

Love it or hate it, Walmart is doubling down on its metaverse plan for potential game players, according to William White, the company’s chief U.S. marketing officer.

“We’re focusing on creating new and innovative experiences that excite them, something we’re already doing in the communities where they live, and now, the virtual worlds where they play,”White stated In a statement.

Avatar selfie

Screenshot by Marco Quiroz Gutierrez

Walmart’s not alone. Companies such as Nike, Samsung, JPMorganRoblox or other platforms, they have created their own business-themed metaverse experience. JPMorgan and Samsung opted for Decentraland, a crypto-enabled metaverse platform. Nike was the winner.Roblox adopted by one of the biggest companiesFor its virtual Nikeland which debuted last season. Modeled after the company’s real Beaverton, Ore., headquarters, Nikeland lets users try on sneakers and accessories, and play games like two-on-two basketball. 

It is still unclear whether creating a metaverse universe will become a standard practice for large brands and whether the worlds will be monetized, or purely for marketing purposes. Christina Wootton is vice president of global partnership at Roblox and is optimistic. 

“We expect virtual spaces and platforms like Roblox to become a crucial channel for brands—alongside traditional and social media, as well as activations in the physical world,”Wootton stated this in a statement. “Just like 15 years ago when brands were building teams to advertise or create channels on early social media platforms, every brand will need a metaverse strategy.”

For now, I’ll keep looking for that elusive Walmart letterman jacket.

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