Players help build a start-up by learning how to build money and gain customers.
Mass makeup and skin care brand e.l.f. Beauty is expanding its digital presence into a new space: the metaverse. On Nov. 11, the brand will launch, e.l.f. UP!, a new Roblox game that aims to engage the entrepreneurial-inclined with business-building skills. For e.l.f. Beauty Chief Marketing Officer Kory Marchisotto, the move is about meeting the brand’s audience where they—along with the other 65 million daily Roblox users—are already spending their time.
“Creating e.l.f. UP! is the natural progression of everything that we’ve been doing,” Marchisotto said, pointing to the 1.2 million followers of its @elfyeah TikTok account and the e.l.f. You channel on live-streaming platform Twitch. “Our community is calling for us on [Roblox]. It’s a natural, almost logical extension of the work we’ve been doing for the last five years.” The Roblox game is designed to encourage self-expression while teaching coding, gamifying financial literacy, and raising social awareness all within a color-saturated, neon-soaked universe.
Marchisotto points to younger generations’ interest in entrepreneurship, as well as the ever-evolving knowledge needed to compete in a rapidly changing workplace as the reason for e.l.f. UP!’s focus on skill-building over straightforward product promotion. “We are empowering people to be entrepreneurs,” she said. “To develop financial literacy skills that they’re going to need on the road ahead. Our end goal is to create a place that is not only worthy of their time, but also gives them the skills, the excitement, and the entertainment to contribute to their lives in a positive and meaningful way.”
If the game sounds like an ambitious endeavour, that’s because it is. “Without a doubt, this one has been the highest degree of difficulty of any project we’ve ever worked on,” Marchisotto said. “Conceptually, it was a lot of work—and then once we had the concept, translating it through coding and game development has been a big journey for all of us.” Partners in the game include eGEN esports’s Brad Timmins, who was previously instrumental in launching e.l.f.’s Twitch channel; and metaverse developer and publisher Supersocial.
Gameplay involves creating a startup, then nurturing it along the way as play progresses through levels. “Players will get to choose which shops will populate their superstore, giving them the ability to customize their tycoons with causes they care about, unlike other games of the same genre,” said Yon Raz-Friedman, CEO of Supersocial. For instance, players can choose to create an animal rescue, an art collective, a marine life charity, or other endeavours. “We want players to be conscious that they’re building something that will be beneficial to supporting the community all while understanding that it’s fun for them, too.”
As gameplay progresses, the game changes as well. “You start on the ground level of your job experience,” said Timmins. “The first day is becoming a startup entrepreneur. You earn money, and then you build up those experiences bit by bit.” Players start with smaller rooms, and as they gain customers, they’ll see their balance sheet grow. The experience levels up as players continue.
Within the game users can visit Big Mood, a recording studio-slash-chocolate shop named after the brand’s volumizing mascara, Holy Hydration!; an underwater sea creature charity and animal rescue; a crystal-adorned jewellery and art gallery named for Halo Glow Complexion Booster; and Power Grip, an extreme climbing gym and tech startup that shares a name with the brand’s “sticky” primer. “There’s a high level of fidelity in the game—it looks fantastical,” Timmins said. “We’ve turned up with our products in a really interesting way and not a commercially overt or logo-y, sloppy way. So, to build those worlds has taken some time.”
After the initial game launch, e.l.f. hopes to lure players back with an evolving suite of new features and spaces. “We really want the e.l.f. experience to be different each time players come into the game for more,” Raz-Friedman said. “Over time you’ll see more places in the center of town and more options for further customization.” Future plans include monetization in the form of enabling players to purchase boosters and additional items, he added.
That eye on the future is crucial when it comes to Roblox, Marchisotto said. “You can spend all day, every day in this environment,” she said. “You have to still be humble enough to recognize that it changes every single day. It is an evolving ecosystem. [e.l.f.] is just really excited to be a part of that and feel the energy of a constant state of change. There are not many brands that can fluidly integrate in that type of environment. This is actually what e.l.f. was built for.”