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Beauty’s Buzziest Roblox Games, Reviewed by Kids

Beauty brands have spent millions of dollars developing immersive games for the online gaming platform. What do Roblox’s users think?
Natalie and Alice hard at working testing Roblox's latest crop of beauty offerings.
Natalie and Alice hard at working testing Roblox's latest crop of beauty offerings. (Brian Baskin)

CEDAR GROVE, New Jersey — For Natalie, 8, the co-branded Ulta Beauty and Nyx Cosmetics experience that went live on Roblox this November was a bust. The mini games were over too fast, and there were few opportunities for interacting with others.

She had much more fun in Elf Up!, the Roblox game by E.l.f. Cosmetics that launched in November. She was immediately drawn in by the visuals and gameplay. She even took an in-game screenshot and set it as her tablet background.

In a rush to make their mark in digital spaces, beauty brands have dabbled in ventures such as NFTs and e-sports sponsorships, but the game platform Roblox, which lets users develop their own games or play those created by others, has become one of the most popular options. Fenty Beauty, Essence and Gucci have all tossed their hats in the ring and created Roblox “experiences.” They’re generally either in one of two categories: the “explorer,” where you complete mini games or quests as you navigate around, or “tycoon”, a style of game where the focus is on collecting virtual cash and building out your own personal world.

The platform has an audience of more than 70 million daily active users, with the average user spending 2.5 hours a day on it. According to the company, 57 percent of daily users are over 13 years old, which still leaves a user base of 30 million under-13s. That might seem too young a group to be of interest to beauty companies. But consumers as young as 14 are sharing anti-ageing skin care routines on TikTok, while prestige beauty brands designed for more mature customers often top Gen-Z’s most-wanted lists.

“A brand’s core purpose [for being on Roblox] is speaking to an audience that they’re not speaking to on other traditional channels,” said Alex Holder, commercial strategy director at gaming intelligence company Geeiq. “It’s a far more immersive way for their audience to communicate with their brand and products.”

Creating a value-driving gaming experience isn’t child’s play, however. Nic Hill, co-founder and head of interactive at Sawhorse Productions, which has developed games for the likes of Fenty Beauty, said they would normally have 10 staffers working on each brand project, while Holder said developing a game can cost from $300,000 to over $1 million.

So are these experiences engrossing, addictive and enjoyable, turning a new set of users on to beauty companies? BoF assembled an expert panel of five active — and discerning — Roblox users ranging from ages seven to 12 to find out.

Givenchy Beauty House

They say: “Join your friends in unexpected gardens inspired by the emblematic products of the brand. A playful and connected place where you can express your own creativity and gain exclusive items. The beauty adventure begins.”

Our panel said: “I like that you can go skateboarding.” — William, aged 7.

The LVMH-owned maison debuted its experience in 2022. The game is an explorer, and Givenchy has users traverse a virtual world with dance floors, sports and beauty challenges, all inspired by the brand’s hero products. It’s big on visuals.

William and Oliver, aged 7 and 9 respectively, enjoyed the sporting element, calling out that you could explore on skateboards or ice skates. They also liked how rich the graphics were, but it fell flat on one big point for both of them: “It’s too slow,” said William.

For Natalie and Alice, both aged 8, Givenchy had initial appeal, and the quests were enjoyable, especially a dance challenge that held Alice’s attention. Natalie said she enjoys adventuring and finding items, and it looked great to both of them. But for our oldest reviewer, Aria, 12, the game was just too thin. “I wasn’t quite sure what to do and just ended up running around the whole house,” she said, adding that even after twenty minutes of exploring, she hadn’t figured out the goal of the game.

Overall, the game is striking, and a feast for the senses. But beyond that, it lacked any real hook that would get users to come back for more. None of the reviewers had previously heard of Givenchy, or knew that they sold cosmetics.

Sunsilk Hair Care Lab Tycoon

They say: “Master your entrepreneurial skills and build your own Sunsilk Hair Lab empire while maximising profit as you make upgrades to your business. Along the way, unlock various labs that allow you to customise your avatar with extreme hairstyles. Also see how quickly you can complete your tycoon before unlocking special boost cards!”

Our panel said: “I’d like to play it forever.” — Alice, aged 8.

Sunsilk’s game is a tycoon. Natalie and Alice were excited to see almost 300 people also online when they played, indicating its popularity, but found one element particularly jarring: Other players kept coming up to chat to them. While that sounds like a bonus, kids playing online games have it drilled into them not to talk to people they don’t know, so they found it irritating. (Other games use non-player characters, known as NPCs, to fulfil the social portion of the game).

Will and Oliver liked the creative possibility and flexibility of the game but found it too slow and got bored quickly. Natalie and Alice, however, loved all the dress-up options and the new accessories for their avatars. (Aria, for what it’s worth, wasn’t interested in playing this game at all.)

In terms of brand awareness, Sunsilk did a good job, said one of our parental supervisors. The game is built around improving hair care techniques and emphasised product quality. Alice and Natalie already had Sunsilk accessories that a friend had sent over.

An in-game screenshot from Roblox.

Elf Up!

They say: “A new one-of-a-kind experience … [it] takes users on a dynamic, personalised journey to become successful entrepreneurs and cultural change makers … [it] fosters an advanced level of self-expression while building life skills like gamified financial literacy and raising social awareness.”

Our panel said: “Oh my god this is so cool, it’s so cool! It’s rainbow!” — Natalie, aged 8.

E.l.f Cosmetics’ game starts big, dropping users in a rainbow-hued glittery shopping mall. While Natalie and Alice were immediately taken in by the visuals, William and Oliver loved the gameplay throughout. Oliver said it was “really, really, really, really good”, and the ability to create your own dealership in the game hooked them.

Natalie and Alice loved how much there was to build and create, saying it was “much better” than Sunsilk’s game, which follows a similar path.

Aria, however, felt it was too slow to start, but really enjoyed it once she got stuck in, saying she’d “never played anything” like it before. She also liked the customisable element of creating your own shop but felt it got a little repetitive towards the end. She only gave it two or three stars, but our younger reviewers were blown away, giving it the full five stars. Aria, Natalie and Alice claimed to know what E.l.f Cosmetics was and what they sell (though their parental supervisor said they didn’t know it was cosmetics) and found the game memorable and fun. Natalie has been back to play more many times since — but hasn’t repeated any of the other games.

Ultaverse (NYX Cosmetics Edition)

They say: “Welcome to the Ultaverse from Ulta Beauty, explore our dome, learn about beauty, and customise your avatar with looks and hairstyles. Style your avatar with our beauty experts! Collect Ulta Beauty Gift Bags to unlock looks and hairstyles. Explore our world to find them all. Play and learn about beauty in our discovery dome! Unlock free UGC-items in Ulta Beauty’s Vending Machine.”

Our panel said: “Did a kid make this game?” — Alice, aged 8.

Beauty retailer Ulta Beauty offering is even more transitory, as the game has already gone through a another iteration in partnership with a different beauty brand. Right now, it’s the Nyx Cosmetics experience, but it was previously an Urban Decay experience. Both brands are L’Oréal-owned, though the former is drug store and the latter is premium.

The Nyx Cosmetics space is Halloween-themed, which caused some confusion for our testers playing in November. For Natalie and Alice, it was a bust after about five minutes of gameplay. They were the only people online in the game, there wasn’t enough scope for NPC interactions or events and the mini games were over too fast. It was buggy, too. Alice won a prize when she spun a wheel but never got it. She also wanted to buy some in-game items, but they were all sold out. Neither had heard of Ulta Beauty but figured it sold “scary makeup.”

Will and Oliver also complained about bugs and glitches but liked the spooky feel and the ability to dress up your avatar. But they also said they preferred tycoon games and found this experience flat.

The Takeaways

The most appealing games to our reviewers were tycoons, for sure, but also those with an immersive world that offered fully fleshed-out mini games, or some kind of clear objective or progression. Rich, eye-catching graphics helped, as well as variety, but games that just looked good fell short for all our testers. Roblox users love customising, they love switching up their avatar and they love unlocking newness.

Tycoon games seem to be easier to grab players’ attention – Natalie and Alice suggested adding more “unlockable” rewards to spice up gameplay, showing that some kind of discovery and intermittent, mystery rewards is key. And, in order to secure that onward customer journey “you should be creating experiences that are relevant to your brand,” said Hill.

Further Reading

LVMH is increasing its use of Epic Games’ technology to create new virtual experiences across its brands, such as virtual fitting rooms and fashion shows and digital twins, the luxury conglomerate announced on Wednesday at the Viva Technology conference in Paris.

About the author
Daniela Morosini
Daniela Morosini

Daniela Morosini is a Beauty Correspondent at The Business of Beauty at BoF. She covers the global beauty industry, with an interest in how companies go to market and overcome hurdles.

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