According to Statista, in 2026, an estimated 25% of consumers will spend at least an hour a day in the metaverse for digital activities. This includes work, shopping and retail, education, entertainment, and even social interaction. By then, 30% of global businesses are projected to have products, services, and solutions ready for the metaverse.
With so much potential, it’s no wonder that everyone wants to ride the metaverse wave. By the end of the decade, the metaverse’s reach is projected to be 700 million people worldwide, making it an extremely lucrative market. However, the key factor when deciding to get on the metaverse is simple – finding a purpose.
“One of the main considerations on entering the metaverse space, is that it is imperative not to jump onto the bandwagon or the current trend but have a clear strategy and objective for engaging this community”, explains Ivan Teo, Director (Digital), Sentosa Development Corporation. “We also have to consider the accessibility and suitability of the various metaverse or gaming platforms.”
Sentosa launched SentosaLand in January as a part of their rebranding exercise. The project is a virtual reimagining of Sentosa Island on Roblox, hosted in the metaverse. Similar to Millennium Hotels’ M Social Decentraland, SentosaLand takes existing elements from its counterpart’s physical attractions and gives them a more fantastical twist. In essence, SentosaLand is a gamified version of the actual island.
What’s interesting to note is how metaverse projects are perceived. Unlike cloud-based games and licensed products, anything hosted on the metaverse acts as an extension of the real world. That’s because, ultimately, the fully realised vision of the metaverse is a limitless, interconnected online virtual space. In other words, the metaverse is prime real estate and brands like Sentosa are early settlers.
The relationship between the metaverse and its real-world counterparts are symbiotic, as brands create virtual contests and challenges for players to “cash out” in real life. The idea is to translate virtual traffic to the real world and vice versa. So far, over 6500 players have engaged with SentosaLand since its inception – a number that’s only primed to grow over the coming months.
The potential for marketing and advertising within the metaverse is immense, albeit still somewhat uncharted. Forecasts by Statista for its Advertising & Media Markets Insights paint a tempting scenario for brands, advertisers, and marketers alike – at the most conservative levels, 15% of the digital economy is bound to shift to the metaverse soon.
As Ivan elaborates, “Aside from our guests and players, we were able to reach out to businesses on the island to enrich the in-gaming experience with real-world rewards. Roblox allows our team to bring in businesses which are physically on Sentosa into the virtual SentosaLand.
This allows for cross-marketing and brand building within SentosaLand, in a natural and non-intrusive manner. We launched SentosaLand with four participating businesses and more have since expressed interest to be a part of this space.”
Ivan adds, “SentosaLand allows us to engage with fans of Sentosa, in ways that may not be possible in-person.”
“One way to connect with our guests is through digital technology and we started on this form of digital engagement from the Virtual Sentosa on Animal Crossing: New Horizons back in 2020, leading up to the launch of our Discovery Neverending non-fungible token (NFT) collection during our Golden Jubilee, and now SentosaLand.”
The importance of choosing a proper platform to build the meta-version of your brand on cannot be understated. The prime demographic for this type of engagement skews younger by default, so brands need to “speak their language”.
“We landed on Roblox as the preferred platform for us as the app allows for crossdevice access and players can access SentosaLand from their desktop, mobile devices, and also on XBox”, explains Ivan.
He adds, “Roblox is also a member in the kidSAFE Seal Programme, which has been approved by the United States’ Federal Trade Commission as an authorised safe harbour under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This ensures a certain level of brand safety and safeguards the younger and more impressionable players.
The platform is also fairly established and affords our team the creativity and space to design, build, and play with the space. For instance, we have an adventure course of topsy-turvy proportions at the Imbiah Magical Forest where the landscape inverts as players go through it.”
When asked about creating awareness about SentosaLand, Ivan said, “To promote and publicise SentosaLand, we are tapping on a variety of publicity channels, including various social content that will be published on our owned platforms, as well as earned and paid media placements.”
“We will also be working with social media influencer Vanessa Chong (@vanchongvl). A host, producer, and actress from Malaysia, Vanessa will create a series of Instagram Posts and Reels about the gameplay and how it enables her to bond with her family.
Additionally, we are engaging the Discord community that we have built when we launched the Sentosa Discord channel back in September 2022. The channel was a new interaction tool that we have with our guests, and was launched in conjunction with the Discovery Neverending NFT collection. The channel has been growing steadily since, and we will engage the Sentosa Discord community who are digital natives and typically also gamers.”
What’s clear is that brands are already connecting with consumers of the future via the metaverse. While companies are usually active on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, to some degree, the opportunities presented by Discord, Twitch, and other platforms populated by a younger market shouldn’t be ignored.
In time, young users will turn into travellers and consumers, and by then, early adopters of the metaverse like SentosaLand would have had years of brand-building already in place.
Metaverse Builders in Asia is an ongoing series chronicling the people and brands within travel, hospitality, activities, and experiences in Asia who have formed the digital building blocks to what many believe is the future of the Internet – the metaverse. Follow this thread for more articles and keep tabs on us via our socials for more content.