Earlier this week, Forever 21 released “a fashion retail experience” on Roblox called Forever 21 Shop City. The game allows users to own and operate a Forever 21 location, customizing their store, hiring non-player characters as employees, and curating clothing dubbed “MetaMerch.” The fast-fashion retailer celebrated the Roblox collab with a clothing collection on its website.
In Forever 21 Shop City, a number of stores — all of them Forever 21 outlets — line a single winding street, and each location competes to be the top shop in the city. The promo video for Shop City shows gleaming buildings, paparazzi, and an iconic yellow carpet.
Forever 21 Shop City was released by Wonder Works Studio (which put out the cereal-themed Froot Loops World on Roblox earlier this month) and Virtual Brand Group, a company that aims to help businesses monetize the metaverse.
Teens who have played the game, however, don’t have great things to say about it.
Roblox users aren’t having it— Jack Beardslee, a 17-year-old avid Roblox user, tells Input he’s not impressed. Beardslee criticizes the game’s perspective, noting that “the camera kept twisting, making it difficult to see what you were doing.” Others agree that the experience wasn’t 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’s so generic and pushy with the brand.”
Sam Harvey, 17, believes the experience was “pumped out cheaply.” He adds, “Feels more akin to a chore than a game at the start.
“The game looks alright, but the gameplay from the start is bland,” Harvey continues. “Sell clothes, answer questions, run all the way to the Forever 21 building to pick up more clothes, rinse and repeat. If they maybe had more customization at the start, easier menus to navigate, 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. Just this month, Ralph Lauren introduced Roblox winter-themed 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 to Gen Alpha and young Gen Z, not all users are happy. “Most of these [branded games] are quite boring and only get players during the promotional period,” says 16-year-old Noa V., a longtime Roblox fan. “I know a lot of creators and players on the platform feel like this push is a blatant cash grab and a sign of the corporatization of Roblox games.”