Ikea will pay 10 Roblox players to roleplay as employees in its virtual store

Corporate publicity stunts involving virtual reality are almost always bad, but Ikea’s new Roblox store feels especially silly. The company announced last week that it plans to pay 10 people £13.15 or €14.80 per hour to work in The Co-Worker Game, a virtual Ikea store in Roblox. The company is taking applications until June 16th, only from candidates in the UK or Ireland who are 18 or older.

Being paid to be an NPC. What a world. The virtual employees will carry out tasks like serving meatballs or helping people find fake furniture or other Ikea items. They can also “get promoted to move departments, just like in the real world.”

A look at Ikea’s Co-Worker Game virtual store.
Image: Ikea

I wouldn’t assume this is a real job, even if Ikea is paying real money for it. The website where you can apply says it’s a “limited contract.” The application asks you questions like “How do you feel about being turned into pixels?” or “If you were a pixelated IKEA furniture, which one would you be and why?”

Ikea says it requires an up-to-date CV, though it doesn’t ask for one upfront, and I couldn’t get past the form with my US-based phone number. (If one of our readers across the pond wants to give it a go and send us an update, I’d love to read about your experience.) The gig is open to applicants 18 and older who live in the UK or the Republic of Ireland, and it’s remote, so you can pull up your new Ikea gaming chair after you’re done playing around with Ikea’s virtual design tool and serve some virtual meatballs from the comfort of your own home.

If you apply and don’t get the callback, don’t you worry. The company says people who don’t get the job can also “work, explore, and experience” the Ikea Roblox store. And it says you can win Ikea-exclusive UGCs, Roblox’s term for user-created items or other content that exists within the game.

I’ll be very up-front, here. I have never played with anything made in Roblox. But few things sound less appealing to me than pretending to be a retail employee in a virtual version of a real-life furniture dealer. Other companies have tried their hand at hanging their brand out in VR — there’s the Walmart Discovered virtual store for buying digital items with Roblox’s in-game Robux currency, and Gucci has made Roblox environments, including Gucci town in 2022.

So that aspect of this is nothing new. And people — often kids — do make money in Roblox, something critics say is exploitative. But this is the first time I’m aware of that a company has offered to pay people real money to work in their Roblox world, and it’s weird, but also seems relatively harmless, and less obnoxious than NFTs.

The company says it’ll hold virtual interviews between June 14th and June 18th, and The Co-Worker Game launches on June 24th.

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