The online building game and social network, Roblox, recently raised $92 Million from venture capitalists in order to hire programmers and to pay employees who wish to cash out their shares in the company, according to Bloomberg. Roblox, launched in 2006, allows users to create their own games within the game environment using pre-made assets and a user-friendly scripting system.
The company generates revenue by allowing players to sell the content they create within the game to other players, taking a cut of their profits. Additionally, although players can access some parts of the game for free, Roblox charges those who wish to create their own content within the game a subscription fee to access Roblox Studio, the company’s proprietary content creation tool. This novel strategy has brought Roblox a significant deal of success, as the company has seen a remarkable increase in its userbase over the past several years; the company recently boasted 48 million monthly active users, who together have created over 22 million games on the platform.
Roblox, despite not receiving the same degree of mainstream attention, is one of the major competitors of the wildly popular Minecraft, a similar game in which players can harvest materials from the game environment to create structures. Minecraft, owned by Microsoft, has a userbase of 55 million monthly players, but Roblox’s rapid growth has the potential to displace some of Minecraft’s players. Despite being older than Minecraft, Roblox features a greater potential for player interaction, as the Roblox Studio system allows content creators to create their own game objects and character models as well as access the “LUA” scripting environment.
Despite the similarities in gameplay, Minecraft differs significantly in its business structure. Instead of charging players for content created by other players within the game, Minecraft players only have to pay a single fee upfront for access to both the game’s singleplayer and multiplayer components. Although Minecraft does not include robust tools for game designers to create and sell content within the game, third-party solutions have been implemented to enable this functionality. Players are able to set up custom servers for others to connect to, and through the use of unofficial tools, run code on the server side that affects the gameplay experience for anyone connected to the server, whether or not users have installed modifications to their game on the client side. Because this process happens outside of Microsoft’s supervision, those who run servers with custom content are free to charge whatever they’d like to those who would like access to certain features of the server, using whatever payment method they’d like.
Like Minecraft, Roblox’s target demographic is young gamers between the ages of 6 and 16. Although this is a highly-sought after demographic, with potential for allowing rapid growth for building games like Roblox, it is notoriously fickle as younger users change preferences in gaming platforms; Club Penguin, for instance, once a very popular web-based social network aimed towards younger users, had to shut down this January as a result of a dwindling user base.
Moving forward, the company plans to use the money they raised from investors to focus on expanding the game’s presence on mobile platforms, as well as expanding the game’s social tools. Additionally, Roblox intends to further the game’s compatibility with virtual reality headsets and create more tools for players to use in the creation of their own games within the game environment.
Like Minecraft, one of the major advantages for Roblox is the advertising generated by content creators on Youtube. One of Youtube’s most popular categories for videos is gaming-related content, and videos about Roblox can garner millions of views. As Youtube and gaming-related videos continue to grow in popularity, Roblox and other online games geared towards a younger audience can be expected to rise in popularity into the future.
Featured image via Wikimedia