Game Jolt has unveiled a user-generated content (UGC) marketplace for players to buy digital items from both creators and brands.
The aim is to enable Game Jolt — a gamified social community catering to GenZ gamers — to enable creators to monetize the engagement and community they build on the social platform, said Yaprak DeCarmine, CEO of Game Jolt, in an interview with GamesBeat.
The platform’s UGC marketplace is a nod to successful platforms like Roblox, which generated bookings of $839.5 million in its most recent quarter thanks in large part to fees related to its marketplaces. Game Jolt has its own proprietary Web2 virtual currency, Joltbux, which is what users use to support various creators while enhancing their own social experience within the platform, DeCarmine said.
In a move reminiscent of Roblox’s successful model with its Robux virtual currency, Los Angeles-based Game Jolt’s Joltbux allows users to acquire digital collectibles from popular games, creators, and brands. However, what sets Game Jolt apart from the burgeoning Web3 and NFT collectibles is the emphasis on utility in all digital items. And Game Jolt isn’t using blockchain technology.
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DeCarmine said the purchased items offer more than mere collectibles; they are consumable through engagement with content and enable users to add personal flair to their profiles, with future plans to extend their usage to other apps and games.
DeCarmine thinks her company’s approach is generous. Creators will keep 50% of the proceeds of sales of digital items. The platform owners like Apple and Google will keep 30%, and Game Jolt will take 20%.
“There’s definitely a doable balance with aligning your goals with your own community’s goals and making sure that they win. That’s what we’ve always done. And honestly, that’s actually why we’re still relevant today,” she said.
The whole marketplace has been in the works for perhaps four months, though the company was planning for it longer. DeCarmine went to a licensing show and found brands want to reach gamers.
“User-generated content is the core of this, as our platform caters to creators and the content that they build,” she said. “While they create content, they don’t always have things to sell. We want to figure out what we can do for all content creators to be able to create a new revenue stream.”
Game Jolt itself has a lot of talented artists who can help the creators get off the ground. Users can make purchases of Joltbux for prices anywhere from $2 to $20. They can use that virtual currency to buy premium items like sticker packs or digital cards or avatar frames and backgrounds.
“The utility of these items is really what I’m trying to drive home. They’re not just collectibles, even though our users do collect them,” she said. “The idea is that you go to a post, and now I can place this sticker on this post.”
This initiative comes as a direct response to the behavior of GenZ, the demographic aged 11 to 26, known for their constant online presence and strong social connections. With over two billion individuals, they are projected to comprise a significant 40% of the U.S. consumer base by 2026.
GenZ exhibits distinct behavior, dedicating approximately four hours daily to gaming and another four hours to various social apps. GenZ engagement with seven or more apps daily drives a significant portion of in-app purchases.
Digital items are important to GenZ because they spend as much time and money online as they do offline, DeCarmine said.
“Brands and creators are not taking advantage of that,” she said.
However, they face a challenge in maintaining the relevance of their digital investments, which often lose value when not in use. This lack of purpose for digital possessions on existing social media platforms presents an untapped opportunity for both brands and creators.
“This presents an untapped opportunity for both brands and creators, who can unlock revenue streams by offering digital items with utility on Game Jolt and even increasing the value of existing physical products through bundling,” DeCarmine said.
The platform allows creators and brands to set up their shops on their profiles, offering premium stickers, backgrounds, and avatar frames for sale, all purchasable with Joltbux. Users can then apply these items, supporting their favorite creators and brands while personalizing their content on the platform.
To assist creators and brands in getting started, Game Jolt extends the support of its in-house art team, emphasizing its commitment to fostering a vibrant marketplace. Popular creators often don’t have the time or staff to create their own items and Game Jot wants to get them rolling.
The next stage of growth
For Game Jolt, the project is a sign of maturity as a platform.
“This was part of our monetization strategy all along. Most social media platforms are ad based. And we want to take a different route,” DeCarmine said. “We want to create something more sustainable for creators and and brands, giving them control over the traffic without having ads that ruin the content that they’re creating. That was the intent behind it, as well as just trying to make it fun.”
She noted that the entire community is made up of gamers. A year ago, the platform gamified the experience with quests where players can earn free currency.
“They can get basic items to spruce up their personal identity on the platform, spend money in support of their favorite creator or brand, and also get some swag,” she said.
DeCarmine isn’t yet sharing how many users the company has. But she noted, “We’ve had the most insane year.”
Big things to come
DeCarmine said her company is in talks with triple-A and double-A studios, brands and Hollywood folks to use the Game Jolt platform to unveil their collectibles and digital item packs in Game Jolt’s marketplace, which will likely have a good reach into GenZ gamers.
“That will be really exciting. And we’re going to do drops of those items to align with their own announcements,” DeCarmine said.
Looking ahead, Game Jolt aims to integrate the user-generated content shop items with games and apps, expanding the utility of these digital assets beyond the platform.
“Wouldn’t you want to use your stickers and profile frames in other social or chat apps?” added DeCarmine, hinting at the platform’s future directions.
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