Roblox: User-Generated Content Competes with Pro Games

Online game world Roblox draws about 50 million daily active users worldwide. Launched in 2006, the company lets users create their own games and play games created by others. As such, a generation has grown up using the Roblox Studio game engine, and now some of those Millennials are competing with professionally trained coders for jobs designing for the platform, which runs on the beginner programming language Lua. Designed for use in embedded applications, Lua is cross platform, and the Roblox API allows it to be played on anything from an Xbox to a PC, laptop or Android or iOS phone.

In July 2020, with the COVID-19 lockdown in full swing, The Verge estimated that “over half of U.S. kids [were] playing Roblox.” Its popularity has caught the attention of professional game developers, many of whom are competing against enthusiastic young amateurs for success.

The platform’s breakout hit — “Adopt Me!,” which lets people raise and collect pets — was  created by two players in 2017. “Explosively popular, ‘Adopt Me!’ has been played 28 billion times and boasts an average of more than 250,000 active players at once,” writes Bloomberg, adding that the developers of “Adopt Me!” went on to form a studio, Uplift Games, which now has more than 40 employees.

In 2021, Gamefam “became the first third-party development studio on Roblox with more than 100 employees,” Bloomberg says, explaining that the once-DIY gaming platform is now fully invested in the concept of external content creation. In July, Roblox launched the Game Fund, a $25 million grant program to support sustainable content that provides a minimum of $500,000 to Roblox developers and studios.

This month, the company announced new games from Rodeo Interactive, Looty Games and tinyBuild as beneficiaries of the 2022 grants. “Half of the recipients are ‘off-Roblox developers’ and the other half come from ‘the traditional Roblox community,’” Bloomberg writes, quoting Roblox VP of developer relations Matt Curtis.

Roblox was conceived in 2004 by David Baszucki and Erik Cassel as ”a 3D world that was completely physically simulated, where users could build, share and play.” The duo launched Roblox two years later, anticipating “the rise of the metaverse,” according to CNBC. The Roblox world also has a robust digital marketplace, allowing players to create avatars and virtual goods that are bought and sold using Robux currency.

Craig Donato Interview: How Roblox Navigates Brands, UGC, and the Metaverse, VentureBeat, 4/23/22
Roblox Is ‘Exploiting’ Users with Deceptive Advertising, Watchdog Group Says, Polygon, 4/22/22
Roblox FTC Inquiry Possibly Coming Over Deceptive Ads, TechRaptor, 4/19/22

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