The Inspiration for Bringing “Hamilton” To Roblox

March 4, 2024

The iconic global Broadway musical, “Hamilton,” launched an experience on the largest global immersive platform, Roblox, an incredibly popular online platform that allows users to create, play, and share their own video games and virtual worlds. The executive producer of Hamilton, Maggie Brohn, and the President & CCO of Immersive Web powerhouse Super League, Matt Edelman, joined D2 X Advertising Week to share why it was important for such a major property to be on an immersive gaming platform.

Sam Ewen, SVP & Head of Media Innovation and Experience at CoinDesk Studios led the conversation as he spends much of his time learning and sharing why brands engage in web three and the new technology layer.

“Hamilton” and Roblox: Reaching a New Community

The interesting thing about this story is that Maggie and Matt are brother and sister. So, while bringing this partnership together might seem simple, it was filled with a few challenges. Maggie shared her kids were spending a lot of time on Minecraft and then moved to Roblox during Covid. She went to Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and lead actor of Hamilton and her CEO, to garner support, and the main question was always “why”? The conversation turned to how to engage a new audience through a community tool. Over half of Roblox users are under the age of 13 and so many young audiences are also interested in the music.

Maggie shared the moment she asked her brother “Remember how I was talking about Minecraft all those years ago? Do you know anybody who works on that stuff?” And my brother said, “Yes, actually”, with a smile.

Matt continued with “Generally, I talk about young people as under 25. And under 25-year-olds, they are either watching videos on TikTok, Snap, Instagram, or YouTube. Or they are playing in immersive platforms like Roblox, Fortnite, Minecraft, and obviously other video games. If you are a brand or an IP owner, and you’re not in those places, you might as well give up on engaging with under 25-year-olds. Hands down, you won’t find them on digital screens. They’re not coming to websites. And so how do you get to that audience?”

And so, it began.

Read an Excerpt About Reaching a New Generation

Sam: You have a tremendous amount of IP within the play, and all the lore, how did you choose what you wanted to be part of the gameplay, and experience?

Maggie: We wanted it to be about the music, and we wanted it to be fun. Those were the two things we knew. I went to my kids, actually, and asked them what kind of games they liked to play on Roblox. They and their friends were at the test cases at every step of this process, which was kind of fun. I leaned on (my kids) and the developers to tell us what they could do within what my kids had shared about the most popular kinds of games to play.

Sam: So, when you think of the balance of narrative and gamification, what’s the process you use?

Matt: In this case, it was fantastic because the narrative is so clear, it’s so obvious. You could take users through little pieces of history, but you could design those little pieces in magnificent sets that were actually informed by the real life sets of the production. It really lent itself perfectly to a narrative based game. And, there are some heroes and some villains in the way that history bore out and the way that that story is told. And we were able to leverage that hero and villain dynamic. Lin was very much involved in (the creative) process.

Sam: For anyone who’s looking to bring an experience on to one of these platforms, what are the criteria that you guys looked at? Hamilton achieved a top 10% level of engagement, and a 96% positive rating from users.

Matt: Usually, the most important objective is reach to new audiences. Also, what kind of engagement, what kind of storytelling, what can you measure if you want to be in this space in terms of the efficacy of your investment? I would say, for an intellectual property that is really attempting to gain new fans, to reach younger fans, to increase awareness, it’s hard to beat Roblox right now. Not only does it have the audience size, but it has on platform mechanisms to draw attention to the experience that you create. The Hamilton team’s willingness to allow for the right type of interpretation of their IP for this new platform led to its early success.

Sam: How would someone who’s beginning their journey think about immersive worlds differently for a brand or project for their own company?

Maggie: I would say making sure the owners and the IP holders are completely on board to understand what they’re getting into. And to leave the execution in the hands of the experts.

Key Takeaways:

  • What often occurs is a brand has very rigid parameters. And what you’re allowed to do on these new platforms is compromised by what they’re willing to enable and consider. Don’t be afraid to experiment and learn.
  • Digital collectibles and well-done loyalty programs have a gamification element to them.
  • Top games on the platform have meaningful sized teams that are playing with the content every single day. Be clear about your brand’s objectives and strategies, short and long-term as you understand your competition’s presence.
  • Brands can take advantage of “phygital” (digi-physical) tie-in opportunities – enabling transactions that connect to real world items off platform.

Watch the entire session video here and visit D2 for similar articles and resources.

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