Roblox Adds Facial-Tracking Vid Chat, Expands to PlayStation

Roblox is adding an expressive, avatar-based video chat called Roblox Connect to its virtual world in an effort to keep its young user base engaged as it grows up while also potentially expanding its audience. “We’re essentially packaging a Hollywood-style motion capture studio into something that runs on a mobile phone or laptop — without the need for equipment or motion-tracking dots,” Roblox explains, pointing out that the device’s on-board camera is all that’s needed to capture facial motion and convey it in real time. Also, Roblox is is coming to PS4 and PS5 next month, while the company will allow game creators to sell 3D virtual goods.

The avatar move is part of Roblox’s evolving platform for 3D “immersive communication and connection,” Chief Product Officer Manuel Bronstein and CTO Dan Sturman wrote in a blog post that explains how Roblox Connect is making it simpler to create and deploy avatars.

“Avatars represent a user’s identity, so an avatar’s look can change as often as the user likes — more than 10 million of our daily active users updated their avatars every day in 2022,” the execs say.

“Who needs a full-face computer when you can easily spend hours chatting with friends using the screens you already have?” asks Wired, explaining that Roblox Connect will “run on any device that already runs Roblox, provided that device has a camera,” using 3D-animated avatars placed in virtual spaces “rather than showing their real-life backgrounds.”

“The Roblox app will capture the movements of 40 points on the user’s face, then use that data to give expressions to the user’s Roblox avatar that accurately convey their emotions,” Wired writes. “Roblox is doing this on the user’s device and says it’s not sending any personal data to the cloud.”

Initially, the Roblox Connect chats will be limited to two participants, aged 13 and up, who each already have the other as a contact.

In other news announced at the Roblox Developers Conference (RDC), CNBC reports “Roblox is letting game creators sell 3D virtual goods as it looks for ways to boost revenue.” In 2021 the company went public with a market cap of $38 billion, but has seen that fall “to around $18 billion,” according to CNBC, noting that “revenue growth has slowed dramatically, falling to 15 percent year over year in the latest quarter from over 100 percent during several periods in 2021.”

In another expansion move, “Roblox is finally coming to PlayStation,” notes The Verge, reporting that it “is coming to PS4 and PS5 in October.” The gaming and social app, available as a free download, “is already out on a bunch of platforms, including PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and Xbox,” The Verge says, calling the absence of Sony consoles “a notable hole” in the Roblox lineup.

Meanwhile, Meta offered a free Quest Pro headset to any RDC in-person attendees who wanted one. “Roblox Corporation told attendees Meta was giving the headsets out ‘to help you create the best Roblox experiences in VR,'” reports UploadVR. While Meta has distributed headsets at its own events, RDC marks the first time the company “has done so for a third party event.”

The full RDC keynote presentation is available online.

No Comments Yet

You can be the first to comment!

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.