Metaverse platform Roblox is no stranger to cross-media collaborations, be they with musicians, clothing brands, or toy lines.
Children’s entertainment company Spin Master is among those making moves into the metaverse, bringing new experiences for fans of its many brands.
Through a partnership with Gamefam and WildBrain, Spin Master’s Bakugan, Monster Jam, PixoBitz, and Unicorn Academy IP have already made their Roblox debuts, and there isn’t long to wait for a full-on Bakugan Brawl Simulator.
1.4 billion brand engagements have been generated to date through Spin Master’s Roblox collaborations, making their metaverse partnership one of the most successful in the toy space.
We spoke with Spin Master EVP and global chief marketing officer Jeremy Tucker about brand strategies within the metaverse, how certain series are selected to appear, and the entertainment company’s ambitions for the coming years.
PocketGamer.biz: Tell us why Bakugan and Unicorn Academy are being selected specifically for metaverse experiences?
Jeremy Tucker: While kids were already playing within shared community platforms, the pandemic really ignited and accelerated that leisure activity as they spent even more time socialising with their friends on Roblox and exploring expansive digital playgrounds. We always strive to be where kids are, incorporating our properties and franchises into every touch point in a child’s life.
Our Bakugan property was a trailblazer within Roblox creating completely new experiences on the platform. We launched our first major activation into the metaverse with Roblox in March 2021 with the Bakugan Rage Runner game, which received over 75 million plays. In September 2021, the franchise further entrenched into the metaverse with the first-ever premiere of a full-length episode on the platform, and in 2022 fans were able to watch the original series on demand.
Unicorn Academy is a new key franchise from Spin Master with offerings across our three creative centres: entertainment, toys and digital games, and various screens from Netflix to Roblox. By merging our collective audiences, our current and potential fans can engage on Roblox helping us to reach kids where they are and deepen their connection through unique virtual experiences.
Tell us more about the brand-new Bakugan anime premiering in Roblox. What was the reason behind this metaverse move, as opposed to a standard Netflix release?
One of our superpowers at Spin Master is storytelling. On September 1, we released an all-new, revamped anime-style Bakugan for fans on Netflix. About one month prior, the first two episodes of the enhanced animation were revealed on Roblox, giving fans an opportunity to experience it within the global platform. This metaverse move was an opportunity for us to deliver a new shared experience for fans, stacking new entertainment content with engaging integrations and experiences on a platform they interact with every day.
Will Bakugan Brawl Simulator be focusing exclusively on characters from the new show and toy line to market to younger Gen Z and Alpha fans? Or will there be classic favourites - from the days of Preyas, Hydranoid, Elfin etc - to entice older fans onto Roblox?
Bakugan has had a continuous presence on Roblox since 2021, so we’ve seen new and older fans playing with the brand’s characters since then. In the new game, we combine classic and contemporary characters from the series to make the game accessible to most Roblox players. Older legacy fans like to collect virtual merchandise attached to classic characters, and younger Gen Z and Alpha fans discover new characters as they play with them.
How do your ROI opportunities look through the Roblox platform?
In the new game, we combine classic and contemporary characters from the series to make the game accessible to most Roblox players.Jeremy Tucker
Roblox is a large, fast-growing platform where young players love to immerse themselves in fantasy worlds. While there is opportunity to sell virtual merchandise on the platforms, we see a much larger opportunity for ROI - from getting real-time insights and feedback from fans to creating awareness and driving viewership and word of mouth for our properties.
What can you share about Spin Master’s ambitions and strategy within the metaverse over the next few years?
Roblox is the leading gaming platform for Generation Alpha, so we will continue to prioritise the platform as a means to reach our audience. We are strategic about collaborating with the most prominent games on Roblox that align with our franchise audience and delivering new metaverse experiences.
We did this most recently with Unicorn Academy. On September 22 through October 2, we premiered the new Unicorn Academy movie on Roblox - ahead of its November 2 premiere on Netflix - engaging millions of young fans to discover the story - and then play with the virtual characters and unicorns right after. The metaverse is a unique environment to immerse players in traditional content and interactive play, fusing entertainment and gaming.
Our Digital Games creative centre is also focused on building player communities in the digital world, and we will be launching mobile games in the near future to support our ambitions.
It's exciting to hear mobile games are coming in the future. Has Spin Master considered making its own Bakugan mobile game to get more fans brawling?
We are currently focused on the Roblox game launch for Bakugan and are planning other interactive experiences in the future; stay tuned! Our Digital Games creative centre is working on a fantasy-adventure game as a companion to our Unicorn Academy series.