Earlier this week, Forever 21 posted a “Fashion Retail Experience” on Roblox called Forever 21 Shop City. The game allows users to own and operate a Forever 21 location, customize their store, hire non-player characters as employees, and maintain clothing dubbed “MetaMerch”. The fast fashion retailer celebrated the Roblox collaboration with a clothing collection on its website.
In Forever 21 City Shop, a number of stores – all Forever 21 stores – line a single, winding street, and each location competes to be the best store in town. The promotional video of City Shop shows glittering buildings, paparazzi and an iconic yellow carpet.
Forever 21 Shop City was published by Wonder Works Studio (which released the Cereal Theme Froot Loops World on Roblox earlier this month) and Virtual Brand Group, a company that aims to help businesses monetize the metaverse.
The teens who have played the game, however, don’t have much to say about it.
Roblox users don’t have it— Jack Beardslee, a 17-year-old avid Roblox user, recounts Grab he is not impressed. Beardslee criticizes the perspective of the game, noting that “the camera kept rolling, making it hard to see what you were doing.” Others agree that the experience was not user-friendly and comment that the obby (obstacle course) was too easy to be fun.
Gabe Thomison, 18, calls the game “uninteresting, given that it is so generic and aggressive with the brand.”
Sam Harvey, 17, believes the experiment was “done cheaply”. He adds, “It feels more like a chore than a game at first.
“The game looks good, but the gameplay at the start is bland,” Harvey continues. “Sell clothes, answer questions, run to the Forever 21 building to pick up more clothes, rinse and start over. If they maybe had more customization early on, easier to navigate menus, and some personality, then this game could be decent.
Roblox as a marketing tool— Forever 21 joins a number of other brands in the Roblox metaverse. This month, Ralph Lauren featured winter-themed Roblox events to distribute virtual versions of their products. Earlier in 2021, brands like Nike, Vans and Gucci brought their own experiences to the kid-friendly site.
But as brands explore Roblox as a way to market Generation Alpha and Younger Gen Z, not all users are happy. “Most of these [branded games] are pretty boring and only get players during the promotional period, ”says Noa V., 16, a longtime Roblox fan. “I know a lot of the creators and players on the platform feel like this push is a blatant cash grab and a sign of the corporateization of Roblox games.”