Nike offers immersive virtual experience on gaming platform

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Nike is unveiling an interactive virtual customer experience.

Nike is creating a sophisticated, interactive space within a popular digital gaming environment.

The global athletic brand is launching a proprietary virtual world called “Nikeland” on the popular Roblox digital gaming platform. Virtual buildings and fields inside Nikeland are based on the company’s real-life Beaverton, Ore., headquarters, and hold detailed arenas where Roblox players compete in various mini-games.

At launch, consumers can participate in virtual games such as tag, the floor is lava, and dodgeball with their friends. With the Nikeland tool kit, users can design their own mini-games from interactive sports materials. In addition, the Nikeland virtual experience is enhanced by real-life movement.

Consumers can utilize accelerometers in their mobile devices to transfer offline movement to online play. For example, a user can move their device and body in real life to create in-game virtual moves, such as long jumps or speed runs.

In addition, a digital showroom enables customers to outfit their Nikeland avatar with special Nike virtual products. Participants in Nikeland virtual games are rewarded with blue ribbons and gold medals for competing in yards, building their yard, exploring, and finding hidden “Easter eggs.” Customers can use blue ribbons to obtain building materials for yards, and gold medals can unlock virtual products for avatars.

Quick service retailer Chipotle recently opened a virtual store location h on the Roblox video game platform as part of a limited-time Halloween promotion. More broadly, video games are emerging as a mainstream channel for online consumer engagement, and even sales. In June 2021, the retailer introduced a new video game called Chipotle Race to Rewards Exchange as part of its Chipotle Rewards loyalty program.

That same month, Pacsun began making branded digital products available for purchase within Roblox in June 2021. In August 2021, Ralph Lauren partnered with the Zepeto global social networking and avatar simulation app to provide customers with a personalized virtual world, including branded digital apparel available for purchase.

And October 2021 was “Croctober” at Crocs, featuring digital and in-store activations designed to increase brand engagement and sales. The specialty footwear brand’s 31-day promotional effort included its first-ever global partnership with Bitmoji, the platform for creating personalized digital avatars. Through this activation, customers have the opportunity to outfit their Bitmoji avatars with digital items.

In other examples, beauty brand Benefit Cosmetics is opening its own channel on the Twitch game streaming platform, and Kenneth Cole Productions debuted a new apparel collection in the casual mobile game “High Heels!”

However, Nike is going a step further in the development of its virtual world than these other retailers, with features such as designing your own games and integrating offline movement. In some respects, the company is taking first steps toward the completely integrated omnichannel “metaverse” that Meta (formerly Facebook) recently announced it is attempting to develop.

In December 2021, Nike will offer its Nikeland Roblox virtual experience at its digitally enabled New York House of Innovation store with a special Snapchat lens. The lens allows people visiting the kids’ floor of the store to see the space transformed into an augmented reality version of Nikeland, including avatars, games, and Nikeland-inspired Easter eggs to find.

[Read more: Nike turns NYC store into virtual adventure zone]