Roblox Targets Advertisers, Diverse Users with New Features

As it seeks to build-out a metaverse, online game platform and game creation system Roblox is courting brands as well as older users (54 percent of the platform’s daily active users are said to be age 12 and below). The popular gaming platform is adding facial capture for users and offering advertisers digital billboards and links to branded destinations. Roblox has been trying to divide its users by age, and added authentication for those 13 and above last September for access to more adult content. As part of the content diversification critical to both initiatives, Roblox is increasing its Game Fund to $35 million.

Introduced in summer 2021, the fund has been increased by $10 million. Each creator gets a minimum of $500,000 — “enough to fund some sophisticated experiences on a platform best known for its blocky, simplistic graphics,” writes TechCrunch, noting that amount is “a drop in the bucket for a company worth around $25 billion.”

Roblox offers free, user-generated games, letting inventors earn up to 30 percent on the sale of digital goods.

As for technical updates, the company announced at the RDC 2022 Roblox Developers Conference that “your camera will automatically map your facial movements as you speak, so your avatar can express how you’re feeling, adding a new layer of immersion” by “bringing higher-fidelity human expression to avatars.”

In addition to government’s increased protections for users under 18, Roblox faces the additional challenge of courting advertisers at a time when more companies are tightening budgets.

By at least one estimate, it will also be seeking to reconfigure its base. SEO training firm Backlinko says 67 percent of Roblox’s daily active users are currently under 16, according to a January assessment that specifies “only 14 percent of Roblox’s users are over 25 years old.”

Statista, however, indicates over-13 DAUs surpassed the younger group on Roblox as of Q2 2021, and as of Q2 2022 leads (27.7 percent to 24.2 percent).

Roblox says the people age 17 to 24 are its fastest-growing audience, “a fact that’s sure to be shocking to anyone who’s dipped a toe into its endless candy-colored portal of simple games and virtual hangout spaces,” reports TechCrunch. Roblox says it has increased daily active users by about 10 million this past year.

Some of the platform’s new experiences, such as “interactive video billboard ads and portals that transport the user into a branded experience, will be limited to the oldest age group,” while other updates, “like proximity-based voice chat, are also closed off to kids below the age of 13 for safety reasons,” according to TechCrunch.

The linking mechanisms offer “tunnels that transport users from one experience to another.” Eventually, the portal design “could expand outward, transforming Roblox from a 2D experience with a flat mobile-style app menu” to more of a 3D space, TechCrunch writes.

Bloomberg reports that “adding immersive ads has been a ‘dream’ for Roblox for 15 years, chief executive officer Dave Baszucki said at the company’s developers’ conference.”

Roblox “has had lucrative partnerships with the likes of Ralph Lauren, Chipotle and other top companies to offer users branded games, virtual concerts and items. But the plan is to go even further, for players to be able to interact with advertisements inside of games, including ones that function as portals, taking gamers to branded zones, Baszucki said.”

Roblox Innovation Awards Honor the Best of UGC, VentureBeat, 9/10/22
Roblox Jumps into Online Advertising as Revenue Growth Slows, CNBC, 9/9/22
Roblox Wants to Shed Its Reputation as a Kids-Only Platform, Protocol, 9/9/22
Roblox Is Easing Its Chat Filter Restrictions, Screen Rant, 9/10/22

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