Roblox appears in the US 15 years ago. For a long time the computer game, in which everyone can develop their own game world, lasts a niche existence. But from 2016, the monthly active users have skyrocketed from nine to 100 million per month. We show how the Roblox team was able to win not only many players, but also millions of recreational developers, why they now even make good money, even with Roblox, and how the whole game has become a whole economy.
In 2004, David Baszucki and Erik Cassel founded Dynablox, and in 2006, Roblox . A computer game that actually functions as a platform for many individual games: Players can either play one of over 15 million games developed by the community, or simply develop one themselves. This Roblox today reaches 100 million monthly active users – more than Fortnite or Minecraft. Why it is still less well known, is likely to be the platform approach, which allows the creators but now also lucrative business models.
Educational Game + Friendster = Roblox
The two Americans Baszucki and Cassel had developed before Roblox a learning software for physical experiments, which was used by many students as a game. “They had fun building their own experiments,” says founder and current Roblox CEO David Baszucki to Techcrunch. “They’ve made car crashes and collapsing buildings and other funny stuff.” The basic idea of this learning software, combined with the impressions Baszucki received as an investor in the social network Friendster, led to the idea behind Roblox: a free-to-play game world and exchange among gamers.
The approach is full of risks: Roblox depends on user-generated content – only at the beginning of the team develops some games themselves to avoid the chicken and egg problem of many platforms. At the same time, it completely takes care of the infrastructure, provides developer software, servers, apps, chat function.
In the first test, the characters were still floated through the image, because the team had no time to animate them. Nevertheless, a few dozen testers play the first version. When the first version of Roblox Studio – the developer version of the game – appeared in 2006, it really got started. “It went much better than we expected. There were paintball games, model trains, Halloween scary houses, “says founder Baszucki. In 2008, Roblox will stop developing its own games for the platform.
Million in sales through virtual stores
Since then, the company has always been tempted to rethink its business model. 2009 starts Minecraft – a game with a similar look, but only one game world. In 2013, Minecraft has tens of millions of paying users. King.com (Candy Crush) and other game developers are trying their luck on Facebook at the time, then kick-start free-to-play games in the app stores.
They earn millions with in-app purchases from users. Roblox-maker Baszucki still sticks to his platform idea and thinks about initial monetization ideas: In 2008, the team introduced the in-game currency Robux. Players can now buy clothes for their characters, brand new characters, weapons and other items like wings or Batman costumes. There are also various virtual products in the games themselves The developers can offer or they make their entire game paid. Robux cost again real money: 400 Robux, for example, just under five euros, for 10,000 Robux are due 100 euros.
Turnover figures are not publicly disclosed by the company, but there are indications of magnitude. According to estimates from the Sensor Tower analysis tool, Roblox has earned more than $ 750 million with its apps alone. Per day, players around the world would spend nearly $ 1.2 million on apps today, which would translate into more than $ 400 million in revenue for Roblox over the year, through in-app purchases alone.
According to Roblox now plays just over half of the users in the apps, which would mean on the other page millions more sales through the desktop versions. In addition, the company sells its own game characters in its own Amazon shop and other dealers, which are reminiscent of Lego males typical of the Roblox look. All this leads to a current business valuation of $ 2.5 billion.
Roblox developers become millionaires
An important building block for success are the independent developers, who have already hired 15 million games on the Roblox platform. That’s why the company is also involved in their success. If players spend their Robux dollars in a game, the developers get a portion of the revenue generated. Roblox said it paid more than $ 60 million to its two million hobbyists last year alone. The most successful would have taken between two and three million US dollars.
Many of the young developers started out as Roblox players. Like Alex Balfanz, who published the game “Jailbreak” on Roblox in 2017 as an 18-year-old with a friend . On the first day, the two had 75,000 simultaneous players recorded – at the end of the year is a seven-digit turnover. Another young developer, Andrew Bereza, has been making good money with his “Miner’s Heaven” game since 2015 .
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So much so that he could afford his full university education. “The cool thing about Roblox is that it does a lot of the heavy stuff,” Bereza told Business Insider.Many of the young developers only have a few hours of work in a game at the beginning. If it starts, the success can only be maintained with constant updates.
Games like jailbreak can come up with barely comprehensible numbers. According to the statistics on the Roblox platform, the site of the game was visited over 2.8 billion times. More than 3 million players have given the game a like. To keep the huge developer community at bay, the company has held developer conferences since 2015, much as big platform companies like Apple and Google do. Very successful game makers are allowed to work directly with the Roblox team in California.
Who plays that kind of thing?
The whole success is mainly due to a target group. Above all, Roblox reaches children under the age of 13. According to the company, the majority of 9 to 12-year-old Americans are already on the platform. The success in children and the simultaneous failure of other target groups has different reasons. Founder Dave Baszucki speaks of a “co-experience” when talking about Roblox’s gaming experience. Players should experience worlds, chat with others, build their own identity. In the game experience itself, this is expressed through unfinished landscapes, missing explanations of how the games are to be played and thus more aimless wandering around. Finally, the young developers learn what it means to build real games.
“If you play our games, then not to win. You go to these worlds to meet people you know and share an experience, ” says Roblox Chief Business Officer Craig Donato to Techcrunch. “Kids just do not have enough places left to give their imagination free rein.” One benefit of these less competitive game mechanics is that many girls are now on the platform, perhaps finding a way to become game developers. 40 percent of Roblox players are female today.
The Roblox world also lives on other platforms
But how could the platform – even if it took a long time – grow to 100 million active users? And why was there such a leap in growth, especially in recent years? As so often, other platforms help. Especially on Youtube the Roblox community has found a second home. Entire short films are published there – the Roblox characters as the main actor.
US youtubers like “The Pals” with more than three million subscribers have completely specialized in their Roblox adventure videos. Her most successful clip has over 18 million views on Youtube . Under each of these videos – whether from Arazhul, The Pals or countless others – the Roblox website is linked. Youtuber Arazhul also advertises his Roblox group under his video – another clever community tool of the game. Here his fans can get in direct contact with the Youtuber. The Arazhul group has more than 52,000 members and it sells a virtual T-shirt for 50 Robux in the connected shop.
Another Youtuber nicknamed Kavra even reaches more than 450,000 of his fans with his Roblox group . Here, he not only earns some Robux with digital t-shirts, but also promotes his games in which his fans can potentially meet him – and in which the players spend Robux dollars, from which Kavra then collects a commission. It is not for nothing that founder Dave Baszucki speaks of a market economy that arose in the game.
From 100 million to a billion players?
American kids are on board, now Roblox wants to become even bigger in two ways: internationalization and opening up new target groups. Both are made more difficult by the very well functioning principle. The game is officially available since April – but only the platform and the registration. The individual games have to be translated by the respective developers, which seems to be a big hurdle in a sample by OMR.
Almost all games are still in English. If there is a translation, mostly words are hung in Google Translate manner. There should be a good push through the launch of Roblox in China. For this purpose, the company has formed a joint venture with the Wechat-maker Tencent, The Chinese also own 40 percent of Fortnite developer Epic Games.
New age groups want to reach the team by polishing up the graphics and larger worlds. At the same time, Roblox also wants to inspire more professional development teams for the platform. Instead of drowning in the app stores, they should design games at Roblox. For this purpose, however, must be worked on the personalization of the game overview. “There is already a lot of content that is tailored to very different age groups. But it’s hard to find, “says Adam Miller, vice president of engineering at Roblox. For Roblox, the same games are still displayed on the start page. To click through 15 million – that does not make children or adults.